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ness and Virtue for its own Sake, and as amiableCH A P.
XVI. in itself ll. The Truth forces itself upon him a little after, and he finds himself under a Necessity to own 'cis certain on the other side, that the Principle of " Fear of future Punishment $ and Hope of future Reward, how mercenary " and servile soever it may be accounted, is yet, " in many circumstances, a great Advantage and “ Support to Virtue .” What is this but advancing a notional Principle, for subverting the Virtue of Christendom, under a whimsical Distinction ?
Now according to the Observation of the Author of Christianity as old, &c. That every Exception to a general Rule is founded upon a general Rule itself, the above Exception, which he allows of, must certainly be acknowledg’d the truest, first, superior general Rule ; being so evidently founded in Nature and the Truth of Things ; consequently, that his Doctrine of Virtue must be excepted out of it, as an Extravagance and a Rant of Enthusiasm, being grounded in an unnatural Endeavour to put asunder what God and Nature have join'd together. Had he first made a due Inquiry into Nature, he had made a better Inquiry concerning Virtue. For that which makes Virtue impracticable to the Generality, according to the Measures of Man in his present State, can never be the Way to serve Virtue, or recommend it, in good earnest, to Practice.
What truer, and yet what worse Character can be given of the Deists Religion, who reject Christianity, than that it is apparently bottom'd
Chara&. Vol. II. pag. 66.
# Ibid. Vol. I. pag. 1Q,
CHA P. upon Ignorance, .or. Mistakes, both of the Nature, XVI. of Man, and God? And that they fight against
true Religion (the invincible Gospel) in the War of Ignorance 's as it is elegantly express?d, Wild. xiv. 22. Their.. Blunders about the Goodness of God have been shewn before, and shewn to be their Sheet Anchor. And as to the Nature of Man, is it not absurd to go about to stifle, lo inhumanly stifle those Springs of Action in human Nature ; and so unnaturally baffle those Desires of Reward, which natural Religion infpires ; God is, and is also a Rewarder of those that diligently seek him.
And out of Spite to the Christian Revelation, which has made those Rewards so bright and glorious, and attainable upon the most reasonable Easiness, is it not monstrous in their Leaders to set up an unnatural Dominion of Irreligion over their wretched Votaries, by difa couraging the most effectual Principles and Motives to Virtue ? Does not Christianity cherish, cultivate, water those natural Seeds of Virtue, and push them to Growth and Increase by the Prospect of the most glorious Harvest ? Does it not hold out a Crown of Reward, more precious and ponderous than all the Crowns of this World, to the Faith of the true Followers of Nature and of God? For every one who truly and diligently does so, embraces and super-adds Cbrift ; who came to reveal God, and Nature, The Sources of the divine Goodness, and Perfections, no otherwise discoverable, yet, discovered, are found perfectly suitable, and engaging to our rational Faculties. Nor is there any true System, either of the Nature of God, or Man, in his present degenerate State, but in
his most wise and merciful Government over us, CHAP. by the Mediator Christ Jesus. And does not XVI. this judicious Observance of Nature demonstrate the Author of Christianity to be the undoubted Author of Nature ? Whereas they must make Converts to the Ignorance of God, and Man, and Nature, before they can make Proselytes to their Deifm.
In short, as at the Beginning, Jesus, and the Refurrection, and his Judging the World in Righteousness, those fundamental Reasons for Repentance, were receiv'd as babbling by the Epicureans, and Stoicks, who of all the Sects of Philosophers were most contrary to Christianity ; so a modern Deist seems to be an unhappy Composition of both of them, and therefore, nourishes a double Spite against that Religion. In contradiction to the better Sentiments of Socrates, he maintains with the Stoick, the Self-sufficiency of Man to all Virtue ; and that Virtue is its own self-sufficient Reward; he slights the Reviviscence of his Body, as a Return to Prison, rather than to an original constituent Part of himself; and therefore with the Epicurean indulges its Gratification, and makes the most of its short Continuance, as an essential Ingredient of his Happiness *: And both Sects join in him, in laying aside the principal Care of divine Providence, by disannulling his fpecial Concern, to reward the Righteous, and punish the Wicked (the best Thing worth the Concern of superintending Pro
* See Christianity as old, pag. 14. where the Author makes one End of regulating the Appetites, the conducing the more to the Pleasure of the Senses, as one Conftituent of Man's Happiness, which very well agrees with the History of Epicurus.
CHA P. vidence) by the Hands of an appointed Judge, in XVI. the most distinguishing, distributive, conspicuous,
and everlasting Manner before all moral Agents. And consequently, his Ill-will to Christianity carries a double Opposition and Resistance to a Jesus or Saviour ; to a Refurretion ; and to his Judging and Distributing future Rewards and Punishments. Yes, bating the Resurrection of the Body, and the Person to judge, Socrates could have inform'd him, all their Sentiments are contrary to the Truth and Nature of Things, tho' he should not condescend to be persuaded by Christ and his Apostles. I am afraid he believes with the Stoick, that all Sins are equal, because he makes fo light of disbelieving the Gospel.
Who would imagine, yet so it is, that fo fine a Genius, at ridiculing Christianity under the Name of Enthusiasm, should run into real Enthusiasm and Knight- Errantry himself, in order to explode it ? For the same dazzling Ideal Notion of Virtue, which led him to contradict, and be very police in Bombast t, overshooting the
+ By Bombaff I mean, that Excess in Language, or Difcord in Sentiment opposite to the true Sublime ; which owes its Beauty and Grandeur to the expressing Things in Conformity to the Nature of Things. Consequently there may be a false Sublime in Words of the purest Di&tion, agreeable and charming enough to those who don't understand the Truth and Harmony of Things, whilft they are affected with the superficial Harmony of Sounds and Fiddles, Words and Pęriods. Cujuscunque orationem videris sollicitam et politam, scito animum quoque non minus esse pusillis occupatum. Mag. nus ille remissius loquitur et fecurius: quæcunque dicit, plus habent fiduciæ quam curæ Oratio vultus animi eft : fi cir.. cumtonfa eft, et fucata et manufacta, oftendit illum quoque non esse fincerum, & habere aliquid fracti. Sen. Ep. 115 The jejuneness of his Reasoning withers the Verdure of his
Powers of Nature and Practice, has also led CHAP many Quietists !, Mysticks, and pretended Saints XVI. of the Romish Church, which sets up its Throne upon the plain Abuse of Nature and Christianity, into the like Enthusiastick Extravagancies, Flight and Fancy, and Tokens of Want of Judgment. They would not touch, no not they, any of God's Rewards, no not with a Pair of Tongs ; they would willingly, great Souls ! annibilate themselves, and their Happiness, before the Image of Virtue they have set up in their own Fancy ; and be contented to damn themselves eternally for the sake of the passionate Love they have for God. But when you hear such Extravagancies, always beware of Cheats, Im
Expressions, and his Departure from Truth and Nature turns every Shew of Sublime into real Bombast. For as Truth duly represented according to the Nature of Things is the most splendid, magnificent, and affecting of all Things, so polithed Words in rounded Periods deviating from the Nature of Things, are no better than a genteel Imposture with respoct to right good Sense, an artful Quackish Deception as to Truth, and a Whorish Paint laid upon Nature by a good Hand. A false irreligious Thought cover'd over with pretty sweet Words, is Poison in a Sugar-Plumb : But I hope Religion is not like Italian Songs, where the worst Meaning of Words tuned with fine Sounds makes the best Musick.
H“ Contemplative Perfons ought to divest themselves of all
Affections to all things : They ought to reject and despise all “ God's Gifts and Favours, and to Arip themselves of all Incli“ nations even for Virtue itself.” Letter from Rome concern« ing the QuieriAts, pag. 85:
Another of their Tenets is, “ True Contemplation must kerg itfelf fix'd only to the Esence of God, without reflefling either
bis Persons or bis Attributes. And an Act of Faith thus “ conceiv’d, is more perfect and meritorious, than that which « confiders God with the Divine Attributes, or with the Per« fons of the Trinity in it," pag. 74.
Behold a marifeft Strain of refined secret Deilm, harmonizing in their high Flight, with open modern Deism !