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cence in any dispensation of Providence we can conceive conducing to our own or the general benefit, though in the remotest futurity. These then are the points; it behoves us to labor most industriously, as being our greatest improvement, which if once completely attained, so as that distant good could be made the subject of joy and desire equally with present, would both conduct us surest to our goal, and render our intermediate journey pleasant.

But it is not enough to take up a general resolution of pursuing always the greater good, for we do not always know in what quarter it lies, and when we clearly discern our way, cannot always bring ourselves to travel in it. For the consequences of actions often terminate so contrary to first appearance, the measures requisite for attaining an advantage are so intricate, and so many things to be taken into consideration which do not easily present themselves, that we need particular rules and maxims to supply the deficiency of our judgment, and serve us respectively for guides in each particular situation of circumstances.

Then desire, though capable of yielding to control, yet will not come and go, stop short, or change its course, upon the word of command, but requires art and management to model it into the shape we want. The necessities and occasions of life oblige us often to confine our whole attention to the present instant, and to objects lying close before us : some innocent desires must be nourished to rouse us to activity, and others not quite so, may be usefully employed to assist in mastering the more dangerous : all this discipline we should scarce have skill or strength enough to practise, without some methods and incitements suggested to help

Add to this, that imagination bearing a very considerable sway in our motions, it will be of the utmost consequence to have this faculty well stored with opinions, sentiments, inclinations, and habits, that it may assist readily in executing the dictates of reason, or act as her deputy in the hurry of business, or upon sudden emergencies, when there is no room for sober deliberation. These rules, and methods, and sentiments, necessary to direct the judgment, to rectify the will, and purify the imagination, make up what I conceive is properly called Religion : which is to be calculated rather for the uses of the heart than of the head, by how much of greater importance it is to practise what we know, than to increase our knowledge. Therefore

I take Religion to be distinguished from Philosophy by having its principal residence in the imagination : not that I mean to insinuate thereby that it is a thing imaginary, or the tenets of it arbitrary; but a man may lay up in mind the discoveries


of his understanding, and continue to use them, after he has utterly forgotten the foundations wheseon they were grounded. So likewise the produce of sound and solid reasoning may be inculcated into another, who has not capacity to judge of them himself, and to him they will be mere persuasions of the mind; nevertheless they may prove of excellent service and necessary use for his conduct. And when we consider that these persuasions are to be calculated for general benefit, as likewise how few there are who could enter into the grounds of them, if laid open ever so carefully to their view, a man that has the good of others at heart will be content to find less of rational inference and connection, than he would desire upon his own private account. These considerations

open into a new field, which we shall endeavor to examine more distinctly in the remaining part of our progress.



If anybody shall expect, from the conclusion of the last chapter and title of this, to see me enter upon forming a complete scheme of rules both for doctrine and practice, he must have a much higher or a meaner opinion of my understanding, than I think any man can deserve : the former, if he supposes me equal to the task; the latter, if he believes me capable of so wild an attempt without probability of success. For to perfect such a design, one had need not only to know the things above, things round about us, and understanding human nature in general, but likewise the passions, affections, apprehensions, capacities, frailties and advantages belonging to it: together with what I may call the materia medica of morality, that is, the conceptions, persuasions, maxims, customs, institutions, employable therein, their several efficacies or tendencies, their mischievous as well as salutary qualities, and to what particular disorders or purposes of invigorating the health, they are respectively applicable.

Yet conscious as I am of insufficiency upon these points, I should neither grudge nor scruple to produce what little I could of my own framing, were such endeavors at all needful : but there is no occasion to undergo the laborious drudgery of making brick without straw, at least until we shall have tried what can be done with the materials already supplied to our hands. When we find them fail of expectation, it will be time enough to think of doing the best we can upon our own bottom: if they do not fail, they will answer our purpose more effectually than anything we could have prepared ourselves : for were it possible to strike out a new system equally good, this might not be so advantageous as building upon an old one. Men are not easily put out of their accustomed trains of thinking, nor will be found willing to take a new road where everything must appear strange and uncouth : and if they were, could not make so good advances as upon grounds that were familiar to them before.

For this reason, if there were no better, I am warranted in haying recourse to the doctrines prevailing in these countries, borrowing from thence what I may want for my future occasions, and supporting what I take upon the foundations already laid down in the foregoing sheets. Not that I mean to call in authority to my aid, for this would be departing from my plan : my first proposal being to build entirely upon human reason, I cannot consistently therewith take anything for authority besides nature and experience; nor did I set out in confidence of any mighty feats I should perform, but only to try for experiment's sake what might be done by my own industry. I am not conscious of having advanced anything in contradiction of the opinions generally received as fundamental, nor yet anything which had not its support independent on them. My not using authority ought no more to be taken as a proof of rejecting than receiving it: for it was my business to go on quietly my own way without taking side among contending parties; desirous of being thought a neutral, as the character most suitable to that spirit of reconcilement I have prosessed all along. Agreeably with this view I may now proceed to examine, what there is conformable between the discoveries of Reason and Revelation, and how far they support, illustrate, and strengthen each other; if perchance I may produce something thereby that may be styled either a Christian Philosophy, or a rational Christianity.

Not that I can expect to please everybody by making this attempt: for there are people who seem to have placed the cornerstone of their faith in that text, He that is not with us is against us, and he that gathereth not with us scattereth. With such there is no medium to be preserved; a favorable word spoken of any they do not like, is taken for a declaration of hostility against themselves; as if it were high treason in religion and philosophy to drink a pretender's health. They are more eager to run down an adversary, than to labor at their own improvement, as being the

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less troublesome task; and more afraid lest another should attain any good thing, than that themselves should miss of it. For seeking their credit rather by differing from others than by their intrinsic merit, they cannot hear with patience whatever tends to lessen that difference, which they strive to widen as far as possible : so that he who presumes to doubt of a single truth, must be a heretic, an infidel, a man of no principles; and he that believes a single point without a sufficient warrant to their liking, must be a bigot, an enthusiast, a crafty designer upon the liberties of mankind. Persons of this cast are not to be worked upon by calın reasoning; passion and positiveness are the engines to be employed in dealing with them: so I look upon them as quite out of my province; the best I can hope for is to be taken no notice of, or if they must place me in the light of an enemy, I would choose to stand equally so in the eyes of both parties, esteeming it less disparagement to be thought a scatterer, than to gather firebrands with either side.

But there are many of a different turn, who judging of opinions by their inherent lustre, do not want a foil to set them off; nor lie under temptation to depreciate what they reject, in order to magnify what they adopt; therefore they are candid and favorable to those who seem at widest variance from them, glad to find thern less unreasonable than they had imagined, and ready to interpret everything for the best ; firm in their

own sentiments, yet still better satisfied to find them coincide with those of others; wishing well to their opposers, and therefore rejoiced to see the opposition reduced to a narrower compass, esteeming their own tenets beneficial, and therefore better pleased the more of them can be made appear embraced in substance by such as seemed to reject them in words. Persons of this character will be likely to lend me an attentive ear, and wish me success how little soever they may expect, or I can promise it: but as they stand at present divided in two different camps, it will be expedient to have a little discourse with each of them separately, before I enter upon my atternpt to accommodate matters between both : but in so doing I must proceed upon the principles peculiar to each, hoping the others will not be scandalized at me for supposing the possibility of truth in what they have pronounced false, but consider me, not as laying down any opinion of my own, but using what the school

call arguments to the man. 2. And first I shall address myself to those who hold the reality of revelations, and geniuneness of those records by which they have been handed down to our times. These they will acknowledge proceeded from the God of love and truth, who had no end


of his own to serve therein, but gave them in pure kindness to mankind : or if they suppose the advancement of his own glory to have been a motive, yet they will hardly imagine he does anything for his glory detrimental to his creatures : but rather that his power and his wisdom were so great, as to make the same means work out the purposes both of Love and Glory. So that the benefit of mankind, if not the sole thing designed yet was designed in every dispensation of Providence, as well extraordinary as ordinary: and we may say the same of all divine institutions, as we are taught to believe of one in particular, That man was not made for the sabbath, but the sabbath for man.

The next thing to be considered is, in what manner we will conceive that benefit to be operated, whether by a new virtue and efficacy annexed to certain institutions by omnipotence, or by the effect they must naturally have upon the minds and conduct of such as practise them. I hope I shall not give offence, if I am unwilling to admit anything that looks like charm and magic in Religion ; for he that made us and knows minutely all the springs of our composition, has no need to give a supernatural energy to things insignificant, but can find methods of management suited to the nature and condition of his creatures: therefore shall presume that whatever commands come from God are such, as, if we were able to discern their expedience, we should see it prudent to follow the courses they direct to, although they had not been enjoined ; so that we might regard his precepts as issuing from wisdom rather than authority, as advices of one who knows what is best for us, rather than edicts of one whom we durst not disobey, were we of so happy a temper as always to take advice without the dread of authority to enforce it. From hence it follows that reason and nature are the same thing as divinity, that whoever should perfectly understand one, must understand both, and every step of real proficiency in either is an advance towards the other.

It has been said by a prelate of no small reputation in the Church, the late Bishop of London, that Christianity was a republication of natural Religion ; now if I were to draw the same inference therefrom that has been drawn before, to wit, that it is as old as the creation, and consequently contains nothing material more than might have been discovered by human sagacity, I know it will be objected that in this republication are inserted additions of new matters not to be found in the first edition : but I kuow not how to remove the objection, for I can muster up no arguments even to persuade myself that the mysteries of the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Redemption, and operations of the Holy

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