« ElőzőTovább »
HILE this Edition of the foregoing Sheets was pretty far advanc'd in the Press, there was publish'd a remarkable Book, entitled, The
Moral Philosopher, in a Dialogue between Philalethes, a Christian Deist, and Theaphanes, a Christian Jew. I agree with the ingenious Author, that the Matters therein consider'd and debated, are indeed of the utmost Consequence in Religion : but that the Arguments on both Sides are impartially represented, I can by no means agree with him, for Reasons that will appear afterwards.
In most Sentiments, and in the Main of his Book, he is pleased to accord with the Deifts I have lately consider'd; and so far he appears to be a real and most zealous Deift. This harmony of Opinion will be shewn presently. But as he
differs from Them in some Things, the Lovers of Novelty, in Religion, will doubtless be surpriz'd to meet with these following New Things, which are not, that I know of, to be met with in any modern Books of Deism. (1.) This various Author neither receiving the Christian Revelation in Whole, nor rejecting it in Whole, but by an assumed Prerogative above all others, admits and excludes, damns and commends by Parts and Parcels, just as they favour or disagree with his New System : He seems to set up an Office of Curiosities and new Discoveries of many strange Things, with respect to what is, and is not certainly interpolated in that Revelation. * He, I fay,' is so far a Philosopher, as to receive the Resurrection of the Body + into his Scheme, with future Rewards and Punishments, calling it f the Abrahamick Religion. But I doubt, whether any sort of Deilts, whilst they continue such, will approve of his Concession, or thank him for this Article of Belief. For, say they, we who are known to set up upon the foot of believing nothing but what we thoroughly comprehend with our Reason, Thould we advance fo far as to subscribe to that very odd Difficulty of Faith, as all our Ancestors, of dear Memory, have ever acknowledged (and every Philosopher for that Reason has smiled at, and diffented from it) with what Face can we any more appear to scruple the lefser Difficulties of Christianity, as explain'd by the molt Rational, or forborn to be so by the Wiseft? You believe too much, Mr. Philalethes, for an Orthodox Deift; and too little for a Sound Christian. Which of the Two will receive you into their Number, or make
• Page 440
+ Page 348.
their Acknowledgments for this Piece of Ser-
HOWEVER this Philosopher ought to have justice done him as to these Particulars; and I contend in the first Place among his Admirers, to appear with Pleasure, in giving him Thanks for any the forefaid ingenuous Stipulations with the Christians, in the Cause of Religious Truth. He not only admits of future Rewards and Punishments in an indefinite Sense, but has the Grace beyond all Modern Deists to contend for them in an unusual Manner ; his Words are, “ It is certain that if God governs moral Agents “ at all, he must govern them by Hope and “ Fear, or by such a wise and suitable Applica« tion of Rewards and Punishments, as the “ different Circumstances of Persons, and the “ Ends of Government require. And these " Rewards and Punishments must be such as “ are not the natural, necessary Consequences of or the Actions themselves, since every one must “ see that this would be no Government at all, " and that the Cafe in this Respect, must be " the very fame, whether we suppose any recto“ ral Justice, or any Presence or Operation of 66 God in the World or not. And yet this “ which is really no Government at all, is all: " the general Providence which some seem willing to allow.” *
And his Defence of the Use of Prayer from p. 179 to 197, against Fatalism and Atheism is very deserving of Commendation.
These hopeful Advances ought certainly to be cherish'd in any who calls himself a Deift, * Page 189, 190.
and not a little admired at from a new Oracle of that Profession. The Penetration and Compass of his Judgment appear indeed beyond the common Rate of Writers on that side. He faw clearly the Absurdity of Fatalism and Atheism, and the equal, but yet common Folly of those who would skreen that Opinion under. the Name of Deist. His love of Truth, at least the open Appearances of it, Consistency, made him abhor such Contradiction in Name, as well as deteft the Scandal offer'd to himself retaining the Name of Deist: He has therefore very juftly cut the Name out of the Catalogue of all the Tribes of that Denomination. But I hope as he is so far true to Reason as to enlarge his Faith with the foresaid Articles, that, by the Influence of his great Judgment, he may happily bring them into the Fold of Religion ; and then I am loth to despair, nay willing to hope, that He at the Head of them, and all the other Deists will be so good to Themselves, and to the plain Confequence of Truth, as to proceed a few easy Steps further, and then they, and he, will be not only almost, but altogether fuch a true real Chriftian (inferior in degree) to St. Paul, a glo. rious Apoftle, and the great Hero of this Writer. For as long as he makes those great Doctrines the Basis of his Scheme, which the other Chiefs either denied, or were perfectly indifferent to, he lays a real Foundation of God, and Moral Virtue, and at the same Time excommunicates every Albeist out of his Society, whom the other ever hitherto caress'd as being one with them. So far as he pleads the Cause of God as a Governor, that he governs the Moral World by the Influences of those Godly Truths; I am ready to infer what. he was going to say farther, and shall be allow'd
fo to do by Himfelf: That if a Governor, he is questionless the most perfect of all Governors and Rulers over Men whatsoever, and that the greatest Perfetion of Goodness, Mercy, Truth, and Justice must shine out in his Dispensacions towards the Children of Men, for illustrating those several Perfections, and celebrating this Divine Governor; such as best consults the Nature and Circumstances of Man, for his good, as a free, moral, accountable Agent, but a frail Performer of his Duty always in this World; and at the same Time, most magnifies the Honour, and best marks out the engaging Excellence, and authoritative Amiableness of all his governing Attributes jointly, and severally. If our Moral Philosopher admits this easy Posiulatum, I hope he is the better disposed both to admit and consider better of the Plea for Jesus Christ in his several Offices.
My obscure unpracticed Pen, unskilful of every palliating Artifice, and uncapable of adding Strength to any Thing but what down-right Truth affords, in common, to almost every Chriftian, has already attempted such a Plea in the Mediatorial Scheme as the only true Religion ; and therefore am excused from repeating here. I recommended it with all Candour, and with a very good Intention, to the serious Thoughts of Deifts, and at the same Time by way of Contraft, delineated Deism (which at first might have been a better Title of the Book) because a true Representation of it is indeed one way to cure it, without giving Offence to those, who, not loving the Name nor the Application of
any Medicine, may be apt to distaste the kind Offer, however over-run with the Distemper they don't care to own, and have, on that Account, the greatest