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CHAP.“ be play'd upon, as the Passions of Cowardice
XVI. " and Avarice."
Is this his Ridicule of Christian Virtue? The Ridicule recoils and fixes only upon himself; according to his own Maxim, the Ridicule, if ill placed at first, will certainly fall at last where it deserves *. And that is true enough, according to the old Maxim, Risu inepto nihil ineptius. See ing then he ridicules the Instincts and Operations of Nature and common Sense, and the Influence of all Laws human and divine, in order to ridicule Christianity; I ask his Admirers, where does the Ridicule fall? I would not have it fall, if it could be help'd, upon them, or their adored Author; because in Truth, the Matter is too serious for such Levity.
How in Fact is that common Honesty, which supersedes the Fear of the Gallows, first educated in Subjects, but from the religious Principle of the superior Fear of God, to whom they must give an Account of their Actions? If that had its due Effect upon all Persons, there would be no need of Civil Laws with such Sanctions : For the Law is not made for the Righteous, who maintain their Character upon that Principle ; but for the Unrighteous, and Disobedient, who degenerate from it; as Indietments for the Breach of the Law supposes, and arraigns the Criminal first and foremost for not baving the Fear of God before his Eyes. If all the Laws Divine and Human suppose the Degeneracy of human Nature, and are grounded on it ; and the heavenly Legislature, and likewise the earthly, shew
* Chara&t. Vol. I. pag. 10.
their Wisdom in providing Remedies and Helps CHAP. against it, and annexing Sanctions to their respec. XVI. tive Laws, which give them all their Efficacy ; is the Degeneracy of human Nature, to be ridiculed as a Phantom, a Thing confess'd and felt by all the wise Men in the World? And are the Laws of God and Man to be banter'd and laugh’d at? For to ridicule the Sanctions, without which the Laws are but Cobwebs, is a direct unavoidable Ridicule upon the Laws of both. A decent Laugh indeed!
It is true, Epicurus of old, and Hobbs of late, maintain'd the Principle of Self-Affe&tion and private Good; but it was in the depraved Sense, and vicious Extreme; Self was all in all with them. They excluded Benevolence, Providence, and all Conscience towards God or Man out of their Scheme: And so the Pallion for Şelf having no inward Sense of God, nor of the Publick to regulate it in the Heart, whence it springs, becomes Atheism and the worst of Evils in Society. But with that Regulation and Reference constantly guiding and directing it, it moves in Sphere, and does all Duty to God, and Man. Accordingly Socrates, and Epictetus, the most eminent upon Heathen Record, as well for the Practice, as the Knowledge of moral Virtue, both espoused this Principle
under the Came Regulation ; and conducted their Actions by the Expectation of the Favour of God, and his Rewards for well-doing. But this Visionary in Virtue and Reformation having made a great Discovery of the Poet's Meaning of Sensus Communis *, that it signifies Publick Sense, or Affec
• Charact. Vol. I. pag. 103.
CHA P. tion, makes that his first and only Principle of XVI. Virtue ; and, at once, expels Regard to Self, to
God, to any of his Rewards or Punishments, out of his System ; at least from having any rightful Share in his Virtue ; fave only by the by at a dead Pinch future Rewards and Punishments are allow'd to show their Heads. For he professedly, ridicules the having Respect to God's Rewards and Punishments: as Avarice, and Cowardice, as above observed.
Skin for Skin and all that a Man hath will be give for his Life, tho' it came from a wiser and more virtuous Deist, and a far better Philofopher than his Disciples can pretend our Author to have been, he rallies it-* nevertheless as Heterodox Sophiftry, as if it was unnatural. What is natural in the Consultations of every Agent is too filthy to mix with his pure Virtue ; that be, ing à Composition of an Ideal, Transcendenta! Norion opposed to Self. Yet the Truth forces the Confession from him, that it is the Height of Wisdom, no doubt, to be rightly Selfijh ti
Why is Truth so strong and prevailing but because it is Nature ? And why is Self-Preservation the strongest Principle within us, but because it is the same Nature ? As long as that Principle sublists, and is influenced by a due Regard to him who is our Preserver, the Juggle and Fafcination of his pretended Virtue muft vanish, before it ; as being in Reality nothing better than the Nature, and the Self-moving Principle of Man inverted. Is that beautiful, or is it deform?d, which delineates real Life, and Nature
** Charcem. Vol. II. pag. 123.
f lbid. pag. 21
in an inverted Order ? It may carry a' great CHAP. Sound with it, as pretend the Good of the Publick and nothing else; but it is the Sound of Words and nothing more that captivates the Admirers ; 'because in fact and sober Sense, it is impracticable by the Generality'; and I wish that was not the Author's real Policy, to set up Virtue upon a Principle plausible (in false Theory) but in good Truth equivalent to being impracticable ; which, under the Name, effectually banishes the Thing Virtue out of the World:
If such a School of Virtue, fet up in Contradiction to real practising Nature, is a moral Deformity, then according to our Author's own Diftinction, that such is the true Object of Ridicule, how can his System escape it? If it is neither handsome nor just to establish an impracticable Foundation of Virtue, how can it be Proof against that Raillery, he would set on Foot? especially when the Laughing Faculty is generally most lavish against your Impostors and Pretenders to Things against the real Powers, and known Movements of Nature. The Paramount of all
Record is, Parturiunt montes, nascitur ridiculus mus.- But if he digs a Pit for others, and falls into it himself, who will pity him, or help laughing ? For' a Bull in Sense is certainly to all Men of Senfe an aukward ridiculous Beau in fine Words !
Whence that Expression, * I would not be guilty of such a Thing for the whole World ? Not from his speculative Publick-Sense, but common Sense, in the obvious Meaning, habitually caught • Charact. Vol. I. pag. 133.
CH A P. and inculcated in Christendom from thar Maxim XVI.
of Profit and Loss, whose Author was Cbrist, If a Man fhould gain the whole world, and lose his own Soul.
If the Followers of this great Lover of Paradox, more than of Virtue, will vouchsafe to fhew common Sense in practising upon that divine Maxim, we are agreed.
EPICURUS, Hobbs, Spinosa, and almost all the eminent Atbeists and Fatalists, are recorded as passionate Admirers and Extollers of Virtue for its own Sake, not for the Hope of any Reward after Death, but for the Excellence of Virtue it. self, and the Advantage the Followers of it receive in this Life ; which evinces, that it has been a general Combination to attack and subvert Religion, under these false Colours ; that the Pretences to this aerial Love of Virtue commonly run the highest where the Life of real Morality and Religion is made a Victim, and lies bleeding and dying at their Feet : And that the owning or disowning the Being of a God amounts to one and the same Irreligion, whereever a future Judgment, the Influences of those Rewards and Punishments (the Sinews of his Laws, and Instruments of his Government) are denied or derided, and Duty and Obligation thrown off the Hinges : the Consequences, which naturally follow, are very plain ; The Worship of God is Enthusiasm; Christianity an imposture; and Heaven and Hell a Sweetmeat, or Rod for Children to take their Phyfick +. They ought to have no Influence upon Virque according to him, for he says a Man can be Good and Vircuous in no Degree till he likes and affects Good
+ An Expression of the Author of Charna. Vol. II. p. 247.