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ceptation they are equal to the purpose, but for the fake of meeting unbelievers upon their own ground. I have a right however to understand by them, those difpofitions of the mind, whatever they be, which are right, fit, or amiable ; and so explained, I undertake to prove that the morality and virtue inculcated by the gospel, is enlarged, and free from impurity, while that which is taught by its adver. saries is the reverse.
It is a distinguishing property of the Bible that all its precepts aim directly at the heart.
It never goes about to form the mere exterior of man. To merely external duties it is a stranger. It forms the lives of men no otherwise than by forming their difpofitions. It never addresses itself to their vanity, selfishness, or any other corrupt propensity. You are not pressed to consider what men will think of you, or how it will affect your temporal intereft; but what is right, and what is necessary to your eternal well-being. If you comply with its precepts, you must be, and not merely seem to be. It is the heart that is required; and all the different prescribed forms of worship and obedience, are but so many modifications, or varied expressions of it.
Is any thing like this to be found in the writings of deifts ? No. Their deity does not feem to take cognizance of the heart. According to them “There is no merit or crime in intention."* Their morality only goes to form the exterior of man. It allows the utmost scope for wicked desires, provided they be not carried into execution to the injury of fociety.
The morality which the Scriptures inculcate is
Volney's Law of Nature, p. 18.
fummed up in these few words, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy foul, with all thy mind, with all thy Arength; and thy neighbour as thy self. This single principle is competent to the government of all intelligent nature, It is a band that would hold together the whole rational creation, and diffuse peace, order, and happiness wherever it existed.
If mankind loved God fupremely, there would be no idolatry upon earth, nor any of its attendant abominations ; no profaning the name of God, nor making a gain of godliness; no oppofing, corrupting, perverting, nor abusing the truth; no perjuries, nor hypocrisies; no defpifing of those that are good; no arrogance, ingratitude, pride, nor felf-complacency under the smiles of providence; and no murmuring, heart-rising, fullennefs, nor suicide under its frowns. Love would render it their meat and drink to fear, honour, and obey him, and induce them to take every thing well at his hands.
And if they loved their fellow-creatures as themfelves, for his fake, there would be no wars, rival. hips, antipathies, nor breach of treaties between nations; no envyings, strifes, wrongs, slanders, duels, litigations, nor intrigues between neighbours ; no flattering complaisance, nor persecuting bitterness in religion ; no deceit, fraud, nor over-reaching in trade; no tyranny, venality, haughtiness, nor oppression amongst the great; no envy, discontent, difaffection, cabals, nor evil-devifings among common people ; no murders, robberies, thefts, burglarics, nor brothels, in city or country; no cruelty in parents or masters; no ingratitude nor disobedience in children or servants; no unkindness, treachery, nor iinplacable resentments between friends, no illicit connexions between the fexes; no infidclities, jealousies, nor bitter contentions in families; in short, none of those streams of death, one or more of which flow through every vein of fociety, and poison its enjoyments.
Such is the principle and rule of Christian morality; and what has deism to substitute in its place? Can it find a fuccedaneum for love ? No, but it proposes the love of ourselves instead of the love of God. Lord Bolingbroke refolves all morality into self-love as its first principle. “ We love ourselves,” he says, “ we love our families, we love the particular fo
cieties to which we belong; and our benevolence “ extends at last to the whole race of mankind. “ Like so many different vortices, the centre of all 66 is self-love.”* Such also are the principles of Vole ney.
Could this difpofition be admitted as a proper fource of moral action, the world, would certainly not be wanting in morality. All men poffefs at least the principle of it, whether they carry it to the extent which Lord Bolingbroke proposes, or not: for though some may err in the choice of their end, and others in the means of obtaining it; yet no man was ever so wanting in regard to himself as intentionally to pursue his own injury. But if it should prove that to render felf-love the fource of moral action is the fame thing as for every indivi. dual to treat himself as the Supreme Being; and therefore that this faid self-love, instead of being a source of virtue, is of the very essence of vice, and the source of all the mischief in the universe, confe. quences may follow of a very different complexion.
To subordinate felf-love I have no objection. It accupies a place in the Christian standard of mora. lity, being the measure of that love which we owe to our fellow-creatures. And as the univerfal love which we owe to them does not hinder but that some of them, by reason of their fituation, or peculiar relation to us, may require a larger portion of our regard than others, it is the same with refpect to ourselves.
Our own concerns are our own immediate charge; and those which are of the greatest importance, such as the concerns of our fouls, undoubtedly require a proportionate degree of attention. But all this does not affect the present subject of inquiry. It is our fupreme, and not our subordinate regard, that will ever be the fource of action.
I take it for granted that it is the intention of every good government, human or divine, to unite its subjects, and not to set them at variance. But there can be no union without a common object of regard. Either a character whom all love and venerate, or an end which all pursue, or both, is that to a community which a head stone is to an arch; nor can they keep together without it. It is thus that the love of God holds creation together : He is that lovely character to whom all holy intelligences bear supreme affection; and the display of his glory, in the universal triumph of truth and righteousness, is that end which they all pursue. Thus united in their grand object, they cannot but feel a union of heart with one another, arising from, what is common to every other voluntary union, a congeniality of sentiments and pursuits.
But if our fupreme affection terminate on ourfelves, and no being, created or uncreated, be re
garded but for our own fakes, it is inanifest there can be no union beyond the sphere in which other beings become voluntarily subservient to our wishes. The Supreme Being, if our plan do not comport with bis, will be continually thwarting us ; and so we shall be always at variance with him.
And as to created beings, those individuals whom we desire to be subservient to our wishes, having the same right, and the same inclination to require that we should be subfervient to theirs, will also be continually thwarting us, and so we shall always be at variance with them. In short, nothing but an endless fucceflion of difcord and confufion can be the consequence. Every one setting up for pre-eminence, every one must of courfe contribute to the general state of anarchy and mifery which will pervade the community. Such is in fact the state of this apoftate world; and, but for divine providence, which for wife ends balances all human affairs, by causing one fet of evils to counteract the influence of another, it must be overset by its own disorders. • To regard every other being, created or uncreated, only for our own fakes, is supreme self-love ; and instead of being a source of virtue, is itself abominable, and the source of all the mischief and misery in the universe. All the evils just enumerated are to be traced to this principle as their common parcnt: nor is there any ground of hope that it will ever produce effects of a different nature. Some perfons have talked much of “ felf-love ripening into benevolence.” Had it been said malevolence it had been nearer the truth : for it is contrary to all experience that any thing fhould change its nature by becoming more mature. No, a child in knowledge may discern, that if ever genuine benevolence