Page images
PDF
EPUB

say no more than his Lordship has confessed.—Chris tianity, says he, DISCOVERS the love of God to man; his infinite JUSTICE and GOODNESS*.

Is this a blessing to be rejected? His Lordship has no room to say so, since the discovery is made in that very way, in which, upon his own Principles, it only could be made. He pretends, “We have no other natural way of coming to the knowledge of God, but from his works. By these, he says, we gain the idea of his physical attributes ; and if there be any thing in his works which seems to contradict those attributes, 'tis only seeming: For as men advance in the knowledge of nature, the difficulties vanish. It is not so, he says, with regard to the moral attributes. There are so many phænomena which contradict these, and occasion difficulties never to be cleared up, that they hinder us from acquiring an adequate idea of the moral attributes." Now admitting all this to be true (for generally, his Lordship’s assertions are so extravagant, that they will not even admit a supposition of their truth, though it be only for argument's sake), What does it effect but this, the giving additional credit to Revelation? The physical difficulties clear up as we advance in our knowledge of Nature, and we advance in proportion to our diligence and application. But the moral difficulties never clear up, because they rise out of the Whole System of God's moral' dispensation; which is involved in clouds and darkness, impenetrable tò mortal sight: and all the force of human wit alone will never be able to draw the veil. The assistance must come from another quarter. It must come, if it comes at all, from the Author of the Dispensation.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

you must.

Well; Revelation hath drawn this veil, and so, removed the darkness which obstructed our attaining an adequate idea of the moral attributes. Shall we yet stand out? And, when we are brought hither upon his Lordship’s own principles, still withhold our assent? Undoubtedly

Beware (says he) of a pretended Revelation. Why so ? “ Because the Religion of nature is

perfect and absolute : and therefore Revelation can “ teach nothing but what Religion hath already taught*.” Strange; Why, Revelation teaches those moral attributes ! which you, my Lord, own, natural Religion does not teach- Here we stick.

“ Dic aliquem sodes, dic, Quintiliane, colorem:

Hæremus And here, we are like to stick. His Lordship leaves us in a Riddle. Will you have the solution ? It is foolish enough; as the solution of such kind of things generally are. But if the Reader hath kept his good humour, which, I confess, is difficult amidst all these provocations of impiety, it is enough to make him laugh. I said before, that his Lordship borrowed all his reasoning against Revelation, from such as Tindal, Toland, Collins, Chubb, and Morgan. This solemn argument particularly, of the PERFECTION OF NA TURAL RELIGION, and the superseded use of Revelation, he delivers to us just as he found it in Tindal. Now Tindal, wlio pretended to hold that natural Religion taught both the moral attributes and a future state, had some pretence for saying that it was perfect and absolute. But what pretence has his Lordship to say it after him, who holds that natural Religion taught neither one nor the other? The truth is, he refused no arms against REVELATION ; and the too eager pursuit • Vol. V. p. 544.

of

of this his old enemy through thick and thin has led him into many of these scrapes.

To see his Lordship use TINDAL'S ARGUMENTS against Revelation, and for the perfection of Natural Religion, along with his owN PRINCIPLES of no moral attributes and no future state, must needs give the Reader a very uncommon idea of his abilities : for the first of these principles makes one entire absurdity of all he borrows from Tindal against Revelation; and the second takes away the very pretence for perfection in natural Religion.

His Lordship's friend, Swift, has somewhere or other observed, that no subject in all Literature but Religion could have advanced TOLAND and Asgill into the class of reputable Authors. Another of his friends seems to think that no subject but Religion could have sunk his Lordship so far below it: IF EVER LORD BOLINGBROKE TRIFLES (says Pope), IT WILL BE WHEN HE WRITES ON DIVINITY

But such is the fate of Authors, when they chuse to write upon subjects for which they were not qualified either by nature or grace. For it is with authors as with Men: Who can guess which Vessel was made for honour, and which for dishonour? when sometimes, one and the same is made for both. Even this choice Piece of the FIRST PHILOSOPHY, his Lordship’s sacred pages, is ready to be put to very different uses, according to the different tempers in which they have found his few Admirers on the one side, and the Public on the other; like the china Utensil in the DUNCIAD, which one Hero used for a p-pot, and another carried home for his Headpiece.

• Pope's Works, V. IX. Lett. xiy.

CONTINUATION OF BOOK II.

SECT. V.

HIT

THERTO we have shewn the Magistrate's

care in PROPAGATING the belief of a God-of his Providence over human affairs---and of the way in which that Providence is chiefly dispensed; namely, by rewards and punishments in a future state. These things make the essence of Religion, and compose the body of it.

His next care was for the SUPPORT of Religion, so. propagated. And this was done by UNITING it to the State, taking it under the civil protection, and giving it the rights and privileges of an ESTABLISHMENT. Accordingly we find that all states and people, in the ancient world, had an ESTABLISHED RELIGION; which was under the more immediate protection of the civil Magistrate, in contradistinction to those which were only TOLERATED.

How close these two Interests were united in the Egyptian Policy, is well known to all acquainted with Antiquity: Nor were the politest Republics

' less solicitous for the common interests of the two Societies, than that sage and powerful Monarchy (the nurse of arts and virtue) as we shall see hereafter, in the conduct both of Rome and Athens, for the support and preservation of the established worship.

But

But an established Religion is the voice of Nature; and not confined to certain ages, people, or religions. That great voyager and sensible observer of men and manners, J. Baptiste Tavernier, speaking of the kingdom of Tunquin, thus delivers himself concerning this universal policy, as he saw it practised, in his time, both in the East and West: “I come now to “ the political description of this kingdom, under " which I comprehend the religion, which is, almost

every where, in concert with the civil government, for the mutual support of one another*."

That the Magistrate established Religion, united it to the State, and took it into his immediate protection for the sake of civil Society, cannot be questioned; the advantages to Government being so apparent.

But the necessity of this union for procuring those advantages, as likewise the number and extent of them, are not so easily understood. Nor indeed can they be understood without a perfect knowledge of the nature of an ESTABLISHED RELIGION, and of those principles of equity, on which it ariseth. But as this master-piece of human policy hath been of late, though but of late, called in question, after having from the first institution of Society, even to the present age, been universally practised by the Magistrate, and as universally approved by philosophers and divines; and as our question is the conduct of Lawgivers, and legitimate Magistrates, whose institutions are to be defended on the rules of reason and equity;

• Je viens à la description politique de ce royaume, dans laquelle je comprens la religion, qui est presque en tous lieux de concert avec le gouvernement civil pour l'appuy reciproque de l'un et de l'autre. Relation nouvelle du Royaume de. Tunquin, c. x. à la fin.

not

« EelmineJätka »