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impossible we may find uses in things appearing insignificant and nugatory, expedience in what we thought at first pernicious, good fruits growing from roots of an evil quality, and salutary provisions in what we had apprehended to be evils.

9. Having now apologized with both parties for my attempt, I may hope for their candid reception of what I shall offer in the prosecution of it, and that they will believe me a well-wisher to both in all matters that do not tend to injure the other. As I have professed a strict neutrality, I shall not wittingly take part on either side, but make it my business to search for such points as may be agreed to consistently with both their principles; wishing I could bring them both to join under one banner, because conceiving more good might be done to mankind by their united efforts, than by their divisions : but if this be too romantic a scheme, at least desirous to render them less odious and contemptible to one another, and less negligent of what hurt they may do among by-standers by their scuffles.

I have worked hitherto solely upon the fund of natural reason, laboring the best I could to make my building solid and coherent in its parts. I have quoted authority as occasion offered, not so much in support of my edifice, as with a view to my present design of showing a similitude of structure therewith. I proceed now to examine the opinions commonly taught among us by the lights I have already gathered, in order to discover what they contain conformable with the productions of human reason, and bring both to coincide so far as they will bear; esteeming that the truest interpretation of a doctrine, which appears most consonant to reason, and that the surest decision of reason which stands confirmed by the doctrines received. In doing this, one must manage with calmness and caution, not wresting either of them violently to serve the purposes of the other, as your zealots of all kinds too commonly do, but bending them gently as one would a tender twig, so as not to bruise, nor injure, nor rend it from the parent plant.

The incorporation seems likeliest to succeed by following that method the gardeners call grafting by approximation, wherein the branches of two stems planted near each other, are brought gradually to approach until they touch : they then are bound close under one ligature, in order to make them grow together; but this they will not do, unless some of the bark and rind of both be pared off, and their sides flatted and smoothed, so that the sap vessels may open into one another, the vital juices mingle, and the circulation mutually communicate between them. When found to have thoroughly coalesced, one is cut off below, and the other

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above the juncture, whereby the remaining shoot will become a branch of the other tree : and this may be done upon either of them at pleasure, according to the gardener's own wants, or the demands of his customers.

If something of the like process were tried upon Philosophy and Religion, I apprehend they might both receive considerable improvement: for by piercing through the outward forms and idioms into the sap and spirit, which might mutually assimilate by degrees, the coolness of the one would ternper the warmth of the other, and in return derive a fructifying vigor therefrom, to the great advantage of both. For Reason is a very indifferent bearer, its juices viscid, and its circulation slow, producing leaves, and blossoms, and knotty excrescences copiously enough, but seldom bringing any serviceable fruit to maturity without great advantages of soil, painful cultivation, and continual tendency. Whereas Religion is a prodigious bearer, oftener redundant than barren in the poorest grounds : but the strong tone of its vessels and its precipitant circulation drive on the juices before well digested, and are apt to throw crudities into the fruit, which will, like pears, frequently contain more of woody concretion than wholesome pulp

As to the choice of either to be saved for the stem or the stock, this may

be left to discretion : the studious man will probably graft Religion upon Philosophy for his own use, but the contrary for the generality. In both cases, provided he employ healthy stocks of the genuine kind, uncankered with prejudice or peculiarity, and the inoculation be skilfully performed, the fruits will be the same in substance, only differing a little in color and flavor, and perhaps the leaves and twigs differently shaped and set on: so that however appearing two distinct species to the common beholder, they will have the same nutritive effect

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the constitution of the user. And for our better encouragement to endeavor the association, we may remark that the ends proposed by both to our attainment are similar.

Philosophy leads us by the contemplation of nature to discover the power and goodness of God, whose views never terminate upon evil, whose universal Providence connects all his perceptive creatures in one common interest : whence we are to regard ourselves as citizens of the world, promoting its benefit in that little part of it wherewith we have intercourse, and increasing the quantity of happiness in any subject wherever we can. Christianity instructs us to do all things for the glory of God, to rest our dependence upon him, to behold him in the amiable light of an indulgent father ordering all things for our good, to consider ourselves as mem

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bers of Christ, which is but another phrase to express citizens of the world, he being the first-born and head of every creature, who are his members, and fellow members of one another ; to love our neighbor as ourselves, nor to stop there, but pray for them that despitefully use us and persecute us, to feed our enemy if he hunger, and if he thirst to give him drink. One recommends prudence and benevolence as the two pillars whereon to erect our rules of conduct: the other advises to be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. One warns us to beware of appetite and passion, nor ever suffer them to usurp upon the authority of reason : the other exhorts to subdue our fleshly lusts, and bring the carnal man under subjection to the spiritual. One describes the passage through matter as a short excursion leading to our natural residence in the society of pure spirits : the other calls life a journey through the vale of mortality, and heaven our proper home. In short, the true drift of both is none other than the advancement of happiness among men as well in body as mind: and whatever in either leads aside from that aim, or conduces nothing towards it, may be pronounced spurious or erroneous.

10. Nevertheless, it must be confessed, that Religion contains many things having no immediate relation thereto: it lays great stress upon forms, ceremonies, and strength of persuasion : it seems to enjoin arbitrary precepts, to inculcate the necessity of doctrines merely speculative, to demand assent without conviction or even comprehension of the truths assenied to; it takes a compass to attain its end, turning our backs against reason in some parts of the way; it leads the votary along darksome passages, where he must follow implicitly because bidden, without knowing why, or whither going; it speaks in figurative expressions, and gives enigmatical commands, which must be understood with full confidence of having attained the right interpretation, at the hazard of all our hopes and all our happiness.

We are told the letter killeth, but the spirit maketh alive : but how have doctors differed, and damned one another for their adherence to the express words, or the latent meaning! And even in the Parts remaining undisputed, it is often difficult to discern which is form, and which is substance directly operating to salvation, or remotely necessary to lead into the way of it. So that it may be compared to a Walnut, divided into such multiform quarters as require great nicety to peel without hurting the nut: if

you go to pare it with a knife as you would an apple, you will take off part of the kernel, and leave part of the skin. Nay, considering the great difference of constitutions, and how many there are that cannot digest the kernel without the skin, nor will swallow the

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VOL. III.

latter unless you persuade them it is kernel, it may be almost impossible to manage so dexterously as neither to do real hurt to the weak, nor disgust the strong.

These considerations may warn us sufficiently what slippery ground we are going to enter upon, where we must not tread with fear and trembling, nor yet with rashness; but endeavor to maintain an unruffled courage well compatible with vigilant caution, though not with terror and trepidation. He that is obliged to walk upon the edge of a precipice must overcome his fears, or they will certainly throw him down; or if he suffer his thoughts to fall off their guard for a moment, the danger will be as great. Therefore we shall resolve to proceed with a circumspect, unbiassed freedom, solicitous not to give offence, more solicitous to do no real damage anywhere, but unsolicitous of that favor which arises from partiality to the prejudices of others. But since freedom has been so grossly misunderstood as to be taken by some for perverseness and obstinacy, and placed by others of confined views and narrow prejudices, in a bold opposition against whatever they do not like, it will be expedient to know something of its genuine nature, before we venture upon the exercise of it: and because it is of no small avail towards keeping us in the right way, to observe the turnings on either hand that lead astray from it, we shall bestow some time upon examination of the principal hindrances, that ordinarily obstruct the course of a true freedom of inquiry and judg

ment.

CHAP. VIJI.

FREEDOM OF THOUGHT.

EDUCATION, example, and custom, are the first channels of knowledge and accomplishment; it is these make the difference between the civilized and the savage : for neither reason nor history leave room to imagine a particular virtue in climates, inspiring judgment and science into the inhabitants born therein with the air they breathe, nor that there are not those in the most barbarous countries, who strike out as large improvements as can be made by a single person unaided by his neighbors. But single persons can make very little advances of themselves, nor does the difference between one people and another arise from any other cause, than the mutual communication of lights among them. The experience of those who have gone before us, conveyed by instruction, shortens our road to knowledge, and by lifting us over a considerable part of the way, leaves us in fresh vigor and spirits to pursue the rest, or run further lengths beyond. For at our entrance into life everything is new, everything unknown, so there is no ground whereon to build a rational conviction, nor other reason to be had for assenting to anything, than because we were taught it,

And the like may be said of any particular art or science, wherein docility is the first requisite enabling us to make a proficiency: for judgment comes from experience, and experience is only gotten by practice : but the ways of practice necessary for gaining experience must be suggested to us, and entered upon without any knowledge of their expedience, unless what we learn from instruction.

But the pleasures, the passions, and the levity of youth, perpetually drawing off their attention, render it necessary to raise up contrary passions for keeping them observant, as likewise for preventing their being bewildered by the many opposite documents abroad in the world : so they are plied with topics of fear and shame, to make them persevere in the truth they have been put into, the peculiar excellence of it is continually chimed in their ears, and great cautions urged to beware of seducers that would lead them astray. And after having followed their guides some time, the ease of acting and thinking in a particular track gives them an habitual liking thereto, and casts a strangeness and uncouthness upon everything not exactly conformable therewith. Hence we very commonly find, that proficients in all sciences, professions, and ways of life, conceive a prodigious opinion of the trains of thought and courses of practice whereto they have been accustomed, with a sovereign contempt of all others in comparison with their own.

This prejudice arising from education, or where that has been neglected, from some teacher or company happening to gain an ascendant over the mind, is excusable in the vulgar of all ranks, who have no rules nor sentiments, but what were inculcated into them, and are no hindrance to their freedom of thought which they are not capable of exercising; for where there is no power, there is no room either for liberty or restraint. But wanting either leisure or capacity to penetrate below the surface, they dwell upon externals, or catch at some favorite word, such as church, or faith, or grace, or liberty, or reason, or nature, or rectitude, the proper import of which they do not understand : and if they push their zeal to extravagances, it is more the fault of their lead

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