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warrant left us for the authority of our sacred symbols, than the integrity, candour, and disinterestedness of their compilers and registers. How great that candour and disinterestedness may have been, we have no other history to inform us, than those of their own licensing or composing. But busy persons, who officiously search into these records, are ready even from hence to draw proofs very disadvantageous to the fame and character of this succession of men. And persons moderately read in these histories, are apt to judge no otherwise of the temper of ancient councils, than by that of later synods and modern convocations.

When we add to this the melancholy consideration of what disturbances have been raised from the disputes of this kind; what effusion of blood, what devastation of provinces, what shock and ruin of empires have been occasioned by controversies, founded on the nicest distinction of an article relating to these mysteries, it will be thought vain in any poet, or polite author, to think of rendering himself agreeable, or entertaining, whilst he makes such subjects as these to be his theme.

But though the explanation of such deep mysteries, and religious duties, be allotted as the peculiar province of the sacred order, it is presumed, nevertheless, that it may be lawful for other authors to retain their ancient privilege of instructing mankind in a way of pleasure and entertainment. Poets may be allowed their fictions, and philosophers their systems. It would go hard with mankind, should the patentees for religion be commissioned for all instruction and advice, relating to manners or conversation. The stage may be allowed to instruct as well as the pulpit. The way of wit and humour may be serviceable, as well as gravity and seriousness; and the way of plain reason as well as that of exalted revelation. The main matter is to keep these provinces distinct, and settle their just boundaries; and on this account it is that we have endeavoured to represent to modern authors the necessity of making this separation justly, and in due form.

It would be somewhat hard, methinks, if religion, as by law established, were not allowed the same privilege as heraldry. It is agreed on all hands, that particular persons may design or paint, in private capacity, after what manner they think fit; but they must blazon only as the public directs. Their lion or bear must be figured as the science appoints; and their supporters and crests must be such as their wise and galiant ancestors have procured for them. No matter whether the shapes of these animals hold just proportion with nature. No matter though different or contrary forms are joined in one. That which is denied to painters or poets, is permitted to heralds. Naturalists may, in their separate and distinct capacity, inquire, as they think fit, into the real existence and natural truth of things: but they

must by no means dispute the authorised forms. Mermaids and griffins were the wonder of our forefathers; and, as such delivered down to us by the authentic traditions and delineations above-mentioned. We ought not so much as to criticise the features or delineations of a Saracen's face, brought by our con quering ancestors from the holy wars.

But as worshipful as are the persons of the illustrious heralds, Clarencieux, Garter, and the rest of those eminent sustainers of British honour, and antiquity; it is to be hoped that in a more civilized age, such as at present we have the good fortune to live in, they will not attempt to strain their privileges to the same height as formerly. Having been reduced by law, or settled practice, from the power they once enjoyed, they will not, it is presumed, in defiance of the magistrate and civil power, erect anew their stages and lists; introduce the manner of civil combats, and raise again those defiances and mortal frays, of which their order were once the chief managers and promoters.

VOL. II.

AN INQUIRY CONCERNING VIRTUE.

Religion and virtue appear in many respects so nearly related, that they are generally presumed inseparable companions. And so willing we are to believe well of their union, that we hardly allow it just to speak, or even think of them apart. It may however be questioned, whether the practice of the world, in this respect, be answerable to our speculation. It is certain that we sometimes meet with instances which seem to make against this general supposition. We have known people, who having the appearance of great zeal in religion, have yet wanted even the common affections of humanity, and shown themselves extremely degenerate and corrupt. Others, again, who have paid little regard to religion, and have been considered as mere Atheists, have yet been observed to practise the rules of morality, and act in many cases with such good meaning and affection towards mankind, as might seem to force an acknowledgment of their being virtuous. And, in general, we find mere moral principles of such weight, that in our dealings with men, we are seldom satisfied by the fullest assurance given us of their zeal in religion, till we hear something further of their character. If we are told, a man is religious, we still ask, "What are his morals ?" But if we hear at first that he has honest moral principles, and is a man of natural justice and good temper, we seldom think of the other question, "Whether he be religious and devout ?"

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This has given occasion to inquire, "What honesty or virtue

is considered by itself; and in what manner it is influenced by religion; how far religion necessarily implies virtue; and whether it be a true saying, that it is impossible for an Atheist to be virtuous, or share any real degree of honesty or merit."

P. 9. In the whole of things, (or in the universe) either all is according to a good order, and the most agreeable to a general interest; or there is that which is otherwise, and might possibly have been better constituted, more wisely contrived, and with more advantage to the general interest of beings, or of the whole.

If every thing which exists be according to a good order, and for the best, then of necessity there is no such thing as real ILL in the universe, nothing ILL with respect to the whole.

Whatsoever, then, is so as that it could not really have been better, or any better ordered, is perfectly good. Whatsoever in the order of the world can be called ILL, must imply a possibility in the nature of the thing to have been better contrived or ordered. For if it could not, it is perfect, and as it should be.

Whatsoever is really ILL, therefore, must be caused or produced, either by design (that is to say, with knowledge and intelligence) or, in defect of this, by hazard or mere chance.

If there be any thing ill in the universe from design, then that which disposes all things, is no good designing principle. For either the one good designing principle is itself corrupt; or there is some other in being which operates contrarily, and is ILL.

If there be any ILL in the universe from mere chance; then a designing principle or mind, whether good or bad, cannot be the cause of all things. And consequently if there be supposed a designing principle, who is the cause only of good, but cannot prevent the ill which happens from chance, or from a contrary ill design; then there can be supposed in reality no such thing as a superior good design or mind, other than what is impotent and defective; for not to correct, or totally exclude that ill of chance, or of a contrary ill design, must proceed either from impotency or ill will.

Whatsoever is superior in any degree over the world, or rules in nature with discernment and a mind, is what, by universal agreement, men call GOD. If there are several such superior minds, they are so many Gods; but if that single, or those several superiors, are not in their nature necessarily good, they rather take the name of demon.

To believe therefore that every thing is governed, ordered, or regulated for the best by a designing principle, or mind, necessarily good and permanent, is to be a perfect Theist.

To believe nothing of a designing principle or mind, nor any cause, measure, or rule of things, but chance; so that, in nature, neither the interest of the whole, nor of any particulars, can

be said to be in the least designed, pursued or aimed at, is to be a perfect Atheist..

To believe no one supreme designing principle, or mind, but rather two, three, or more, (though in their nature good) is to be a Polytheist.

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To believe the governing mind, or minds, not absolutely and necessarily good, nor confined to what is best, but capable of acting according to mere will or fancy, is to be a Demonist.

There are few who think always consistently, or according to one certain hypothesis, upon any subject so abstruse and intricate as the cause of all things, and the economy or government of the universe. For it is evident in the case of the most devout people, even by their own confession, that there are times when their faith hardly can support them in the belief of a supreme wisdom; and that they are often tempted to judge disadvantageously of a providence, and just administration in the

whole.

That alone, therefore, is to be called a man's opinion, which is of any other the most habitual to him, and occurs upon most occasions. So that it is hard to pronounce certainly of any man, that he is an Atheist; because unless his whole thoughts are at all seasons, and on all occasions, steadily bent against all supposition or imagination of design in things, he is no perfect Atheist. In the same manner, if a man's thoughts are not at all times steady and resolute against all imagination of chance, fortune, or ill design in things, he is no perfect Theist. But if any one believes more of chance and confusion than of design; he is to be esteemed more an Atheist than a Theist, from that which most predominates, or has the ascendent. And in case he believes more of the prevalency of an ill-designing principle, than of a good one, he is rather a Demonist; and may be justly so called, from the side to which the balance of his judgment most inclines.

All these sorts both of Demonism, Polytheism, Atheism, and Theism, may be mixed. Religion excludes only perfect Atheism. Perfect Demonists undoubtedly there are in religion; because we know whole nations who worship a devil or fiend, to whom they sacrifice and offer prayers and supplications, in reality on no other account than because they fear him. And we know very well that, in some religions, there are those who expressly give no other idea of God, than of a being arbitrary, violent, causing ill and ordaining to misery; which in effect is the same as to substitute a demon, or devil, in his room.

P. 16. Should an historian or traveller describe to us a certain creature of a more solitary disposition than ever was yet heard of; one who had neither mate nor fellow of any kind; nothing of his own likeness towards which he stood well affected or inclined; nor any thing without, or beyond himself, for which

he had the least passion or concern; we might be apt to say perhaps, without much hesitation, "That this was doubtless a very melancholy creature, and that in this unsociable and suflen state he was like to have a very disconsolate kind of life."

P. 32. If we will suppose a man, who being sound and entire, both in his reason and affection, has nevertheless so depraved a constitution or frame of body, that the natural objects are, through his organs of sense, as through bad glasses, falsely conveyed and misrepresented, it will be soon observed, in the case of such a person, that since his failure is not in his principal or leading part; he cannot in himself be esteemed iniquitous or unjust.

It is otherwise in what relates to opinion, belief, or speculation. For as the extravagance of judgment or belief is such, that in some countries even monkeys, cats, crocodiles, and other vile or destructive animals, have been esteemed holy, and worshipped even as deities; should it appear to any one of the religion or belief of those countries, that to save such a creature as a cat, preferably to a parent, was right; and that other men, who had not the same religious opinion, were to be treated as enemies, till converted; this would be certainly wrong and wicked in the believer; and every action grounded on this belief, would be an iniquitous, wicked, and vicious action.

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P. 35. If there be any thing which teaches men either treachery, ingratitude, or cruelty, by divine warrant; or under colour and pretence of any present or future good to mankind: if there be any thing which teaches men to persecute their friends through love, or to torment captives of war in sport, or to offer human sacrifice; or to torment, macerate, or mangle themselves, in a religious zeal, before their God; or to commit any sort of barbarity, or brutality, as amiable or becoming; be it custom which gives applause, or religion which gives a sanction; this is not, nor ever can be virtue, of any kind, or in any sense; but must remain still horrid depravity, notwithstanding any fashion, law, custom, or religion, which may be ill and vicious itself; but can never alter the eternal measures and immutable independent nature of worth and virtue.

(To be continued.)

Printed and Published by RICHARD CARLILE, 62, Fleet-street, where all Communications, post paid, or free of expence, are requested to be left.

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