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CHA P.postors, and Jugglers in Virtue, and the Love XVI. of God. For
Every Sober-minded wife Christian will be sure to shew their Wisdom in regarding their high est Interest above all Things, and conduct their whole Behaviour by that View. Because indeed a due Regard to the Rewards and Punishments of another Life, as brought to Light and administred by Christ, have a sober, true, practical Tendency for promoting the doing Good, incomparably beyond any Deistical Scheme. And therefore that Distinction which the faid Author would set up between Virtue and Religion *, as if the former was most commonly diminis’d and crampt by the latter, couches under it a scandalous, false Reflection upon the Christian Religion.
As to that Narrowness of Spirit which he pretends is peculiarly observable in the devout Persons, and Zealots of almost every religious Persuasion t. And again, “ If by the Height of devout Ex“ tasy and. Contemplation, we are rather difos abled in this Respect, and render'd more un
apt to the real Duties and Offices of Civil “ Life, it may be faid chat Religion, indeed is “ then too strong in us|l.” Christianity has nothing to answer for, with respect to such Perfons, who neither practise nor understand it ; instead of its being too strong in such Persons, it is really too weak; it only faunters, acts the Child, not the Man; for it does not act and operate in such weak, mistaken Minds according to the many Principles, Precepts, and Examples of do-CH A P. ing good inculcated by that Religionis no Defect
* Charact. Vol. II. pag. 5,6, 58, 88. 58, 116.
| Mid. pag, 88.
many * Charact. Vol. II. pag. 279.
XVI. of which can be laid to its Charge by its greateft Enemies. The true Enthusiast actuates and manages Religion according to his roving Fancy, but is not himfelf actuated or managed by it, in its true Design. Is any Servant asham'd of his Wages ? Or does he commonly do his Work the, worfe for having Affurance of receiving them? Are not all Men, from the greatest to the least, Servants unto God? The Service is unprofitable to the Master ; but the Wages is the making of the Servant : To serve God is to serve ourselves, and the Happiness he made us for. Sir Isaac Newton, Princip. pag. 527, says the Word God is a relative Term and has reference to Servants.
And if this is the Conclusion and Sum of his best Apology for his chymerical System of Virtue, he had better fạid nothing : " That by
building a future State on the Ruins of Vir" tue, Religion in general, and the Cause of a
Deity is betray'd; and by making Rewards " and Punishments the principal Motives to " Duty, the Christian Religion in particular is " overthrown, and its greatest Principle, that “ of Love, rejected and exposed *". For he quite mistakes the Case ; the Practice of Virtue upon the Motive of Reward and Punishment in a future State, is the Foundation of Happiness in that State. How then can the Practice of Virtue be the Ruin of it? It establishes the Religion and Worship of the Deity upon the Bottom God himself has built it on; which Way then is Re
CHA P.ligion in general and the Cause of a Deity be. XVI. trayed? And if Christ is the Distributer of the
future Rewards and Punishments, and has improved all the Virtues, and the Worship of God by new Means fuperadded to make all effectual ; how is his Religion overthrown? Or in what manner is its greatest Principle, the Love of God and Christ, rejected or exposed ; when the whole Service of Christianity is a grateful Acknowledgment of that most surprizing Love in the Benefits receiv'd, and to be receiv'd ?
But is it not extremely surprising and inconfiftent in this high-spirited Author, who pretends to be such a passionate Admirer of difirterested Love, Friendship, Virtue ; if he of all Men, should appear an Enemy to that Religion, and that Love, and to Christianity upon their account ; seeing nothing is more apparent, than that the least interested, most generous Virtue, most captivating Love, most heroick Friendfhip, that ever yet reach'd the Ears of Mortals, enlivens every Page, and inspires the whole Syftem ? Could he possibly have been fincere in his own Principle, and at the same Time forbear to love, adore, and become a Disciple to the Mediator of that Religion ; if not for his Benefits conferr'd, at least out of Esteem of the transcendent Excellency of his Actions and Compalsions ? To scorn to be beholden to his Maker for the Hope of his Rewards or his Afiftance in Virtue, is more than human ! And therefore his aspiring to a Sphere above mortal Capacity, and alluring Disciples after him, brings him down to a Pedant in Virtue and Humanity. His moral Beauty, and his pretended Love of it, are boch mil-shapen ! his Syftem a Sham, and a mean Artifice to overturn the best Religion in CH A P. the World,
Besides, the Religion I am speaking of includes bis Virtue and more ; and therefore can't in itself be narrower than that. It teaches to work out our own Happiness in both Worlds in dependance upon God's Favour through the Mediator ; which includes the whole of our Happiness in all our Faculties, of Body, and Soul ; confequently larger than Virtue in bis Sense, which he makes to consist in Affection to eartbly Society ; and allows it to Alheifts, as well as Deists; but not in so perfect a Degree * As Christias nity finds us a Man, it will make us a Man ; our Nature and Constitution now will be our Nature and Constitution hereafter, only greatly improva ed in both its Parts : So exactly does Christianity, consulc Nature and improve it.
Whereas the Deist consigns his Body in the Grave to everlasting Oblivion ; spurning the faid Religion, he spurns all Belief of its Resurrection ; drops half human Nature, and leaves it in the lurch for any Revivification or Happiness ; and so betrays its Cause, in Futurity, in the earnest ExpeEtation of the Creature, and loses it before all the World. Such wretched Consulters are they of our common Nature, and worse Counsellors of its joint Happiness! They join the Opposers of Christianity from the beginning, in professing to deride this Article of future Hu
Chara£t. Vol. II, pag. 6, 57, 69. And this Virtue he confines to Honesty, and distinguishes it likewise from Religion in his Efay on Wit and Humour, pag. 93. Vol. II.
CHAP. man Happiness, as a Hope more becoming Worms
than Men, in the Pharfe of Celsust.
For tho' it is natural in us to have Affection to Society, as this Author pleads ll, can he deny it to be likewise natural in us to have Affecrion for Ourselves ; and that Affection fufceptible of the Influence of Rewards and Punishments from our Maker, as our greatest Concernment, as our highest Reason, as our Religion for loving our Neighbour, and doing all the Duties to Society ; to the Needieft ; to Pofterity, who can't requite us ? Yet so unconscionable is he to God and Human Nature, as, the better to expel all Regard to God as a Governor and Rewarder, he tramples upon this chief Aspect and Confideration of Nature that is in every Agent ; and upon the other Sense of Natural, sets up his stalking Horse of Virtue, to secure his Game of killing Religion dead.
Let Men think, as free of Prejudice as they please, upon all Matters ; but it will be a Shame and Reproach, if their actual Free-thinking is nothing more than Half-thinking, upon the Nature of a moral Agent, and the true Reafons and Motives of Virtue, in real Life and Action. I shall therefore apply the Words of this Author co himself, because they fo exactly fit him, as he has degraded the Nobility of Authorship, by departing so shamefully from Nature : His * Piece will be found ridiculous, when it comes
thoroughly to be examin’d. For Nature will not “ be mock'd. The Prepossesion against her can
+ Exoanxay sintis, Orig. cont. 240. Vol. III. pag. 214.