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Full text of "A letter to a Deist, concerning the beauty and excellency of moral virtue, and the support and improvement which it receives from the Christian revelation"

W, A, BRES! 



A 

LETTER 

T O A 

DEIST, 

Concerning the 
Beauty and Excellency of Moral Virtue^ 



AND 



The Support and Improvement which it 

receives from the Chriftian Revelatioq^ \ ? 3 ^ ; 

._ ft 3, 9 

By a Country Clergyman. 

Eds habere Vires Virtutem, tantumque in 
omni re valere^ quantum veteres Philofopht 
crediderunt ^ nemo Sanus affirmaverit. 

Erafmus. 



LONDON: 

JPrinted for JOHN P EMBERTON, at the 
Buck and Sun againft St. Dun/Ian s Church 
in Fleetftreet, Mpccxxvi, 






. 






[33 








b 

! 

of 



S l.R, ww *" 

Have jagain perufed with 
frefli Pleafure, and frefh 
Concern , the Volumes 

ofCHARACTERISTICKS 

which you was pleafed to 
pjrefent me with fome 
. time ago. And I affure 
you, the Condition of Im 
partiality, which you impofed on me, has 
been punctually obferved. I heartily wifh 
t the Noble Author had been as unprejudiced 
in Writing, as I was in Reading. If he had, 

A 2 lam 




[ 4 

I am perfuaded his Readers would have 
found double Pleafure, and double Inftrufti- 
on. It feems to me, that his Lordfhip had 
little or no Temptation to purfue any Sin 
gularities of Opinion by way of Diftinfti- 
on. His fine Genius would fufficiently have 
diftinguiihed him from vulgar Authors, in 
the High-Road of Truth and good Senfe-j 
on which Account his Deviations feem the 
rnore to be lamented. The Purity and Po- 
litenefs of his Style,/ and the Delicacy of 
his Sentiments, are, and muft be acknow 
ledged by all Readers of Tafte and Sincerity. 
But neverthelefs , as his Beauties are not 
eafy to be overlooked, fo neither are his 
Blemifties. His Works appear to be ftained 
with fo many grofs Errors, and his fine 
Thoughts are fo often mingled with Abfur- 
dities, that however we may be -charmed 
with the one, we are forced to Condemn 
the other. 

It is but a finall .Matter ^ that the Clergy 
are the conftant Mark of his Satyr. They 
who are prejudiced againft the Chriilian Re 
ligion, are naturally diigufted at Sts Mi 
ni fters : Nor do I know, Sir, an foffonce to 
the contrary, excepting your felf. But 
confidering what a general Affedkm--for 
Mankind, wliat an univerfal Benevolence 
our great Author maintains, and recom 
mends:, it is fomeV/hat difficult to account 
for that Rancour, that Keennefs of Spirit, 

which 





i A 53 .. 

which appears in r his Writings, whenever 
he, touches -jon our Prpfefiion. Any ac- 
cidenLal Me xjiion of it kindles his Difplea- 
fiire, and brings us under Correftion. Let 
but the Idea of our Fun&ion crofs his Way 
immediately he quits the Game he is in 
Purfuit of, and does us the Honour to hunt 
us for feveral Pages together. Nor does he 
think fit to fingle out Particulars, but le 
vels and lets fly, at the whole Order. Such 
a Proceeding as this needs no Remarks of 
mine, and they are ftill lefs necefTary in 
writing to you, who as you never follow 
the Example, fo you have too much Huma 
nity and Juftice to utter a Sylable in De 
fence of it. I fhall therefore only obferve 
bow it would have looked, fuppofing he 
had laid it down in the Form of a Propo- 
fition, and inferted it into his Doftrine. It 
is natural and reafonable to fliew Benevo* 
lence, and be well affedioned towards all 
Mankind, excepting the Minifters of the 
Gofpel. 

I am equally at a Lofs to account for 
that extraordinary way of Thinking, which 
appears in his Effaj on Wit and Humour. 
To make Raillery the Teft of Right Rea- 
fon, and Ridicule the Touchftone of Truth, 
is to maintain fomethino; that far exceeds 
the Bounds of a Paradox. I rnuft own 
I cannot but wonder, whenever I think of 
it, that fo able and accurate a Writer could 

ever 



ever take it into his Head^ to advance fuch 
an uncouth , abfurd Notion,, All I can 
naake of it is, that his Lordfliip had a mind 
to divert himfelf with fome Speculation en 
tirely new, and peculiar to himfelf: Such 
as no Man had ever entertained before him, 
and none would be likely to entertain after 
him. 

It is neither my Intention, nor your De- 
fire, that I (hould go through the Ckaratfe- 
rijlicks, and point put whatever may feem 
liable to Objection. This is a Work, for 
which, at prefent, I have neither Time nor 
Inclination. I am glad therefore that you 
have confined me to the Enquiry concerning 
Virtue - 5 where I {hall find little more to do, 
thien to tell you how much I admire it. I 
think it indeed, in the main, a Performance 
fo juft and exaft, as to deferve higher Praifes 
then I am able to give it : But notwithftand- 
ing this Acknowledgment, I cannot agree to 
every Particular contained in it. And you 
muft give me leave to add, Sir, that the very 
Point with which you feem to be moft 
pleafed, appears to me the moft exceptiona 
ble. I mean that low and disadvantageous 
Account he has given of thofe Religious 
Motives^ which both Reafon and Revelation 
fet before us. I cannot but think he has 
carried the Notion of Difintereft too far, 
and am fo rry to find that you feem to carry 
itftill further. 

Before 






L / J 

Before I trouble you with my Reafons, it 
jnay be very fitting to make the following 
Conceffions. I can by no means approve of 
that Doftrine which refolves all Morality 
into Self-Intereft : A Dodrine that not only 
debafes Virtue, but finks it to a Level with 
the moft indifferent Aftions. Whenever 
thefe happen to be equally profitable, they 
become, according to this Opinion, equally 
eligible. Are there then no Propenfities, 
no Inclinations in our Nature, drawing us, 
as it were, out of our felves, in behalf of 
our Fellow-Creatures, even to the Neglect 
of what we^ call Self-Advantage ? Is there 
likewife no intrinfick Goodnefs in Virtue to 
afcertain its Superiority, and determine our 
Preference? Suppofe it in anylnflance un 
profitable v fupppfe it prejudicial, would it 
ceafe to be Virtue? Would the eternal and 
immutable Relations of Things be hereby 
deftroyed? It might be faid indeed, in fuch 
a Cafe, that its Obligations were fufpended 
or overruled - 5 but ftill, its Nature wou!4- 
remain the fame, nor would it lofe any thing 
of its own intrinfick Worthinefs. We may 
be fuppofed to be placed in fuch Circum- 
fiances, as to be incapable of practifing it j 
and fuch a Suppofition may fbew how much 
it wants to be fupported by Rewards : but 
thefe Rewards have no Influence, no Effed 
upon Virtue itfelf, whatever Effects they 
fnay have upon us. < I look upon it as % 

certain 



[8] 

I .1 

certain Truth, that nothing can be more 
binding upon teafonable Creatures than 
Reafon; and that a good Law obliges as 
much, if not more than the Legiflator him- 
felf. God has no ; Superior to prefcrit^ 
Laws to hi inland v-t is -e-r-nally boiiri,(l 
by the Reftitude of his own Nature ^ jtffyt 
is,, the Rules- of ri f& | . ; Thfefef j> 
fo many Laws to him, \ a 3?* perpetu 
ally and inviolably ot/erveb : Tliey ftrictly 
and formally oblige hm ;> nor can die Ob 
ligation be^ever dilTolved :\And yet no Pro- 
fit 5 no Advantage ariks to liirr? from thence, 
as being incapable of receiving any. Who 
ever affirms that God s Goodnefs to his 
Creatures is, in any Refpeft, ferviceable to 
himfelf} muft alfo affirm, that he is more 
happy fince the Creation than he was be 
fore, and that the Creation was neceflary to 
compleat his H^ppjnefs^ which being evi 
dently impoflible, it follows that the Good- 
pefs of God is entirely independent on Self- 
Intereft, and has not the leaft Connexion 
with it. And ^fince his Goodnefs is moft 
perfeft, does it not alfo, follow, that the 
"more ours refembles his, the nearer it ap 
proaches to Perfeftion^ and by Confequen.ee 
the more difinterefted, the more perfedl? 
Very true ^ but then we muft remember tjip 
infinite Disparity of Nature and Condition. 
If ours be fuch, that it will not fuffer us in 
rnany Cafes to praftife this rnoft perfeft Vir* 

tue, 



tue , we muft be content with that which 
is lefs perfect. And if we purfue this as 
far as we can,, we (hall have no Reafon to 
complain, or be diiTatisfied. But to return, 
I think it appears from what I have {aid, 
that nothing can tend more to ^the Difpa- 
ragement and Diminution of Virtue, then 
to found it thus on Self-Intereft. ^ What 
ever may be laid of foine other Kinds of 
Virtue, yet Social Virtue, or Benevolence, 
muft ftand upon another Foot, or fall to 
the Ground. For no Services, no Acts of 
Beneficence to our Fello\v-Creatures can be 
Virtuous, while we are deftitute of all Af- 
feftion for them, and mean nothing but the 
ferving of our felves. Were it otherwife, 
it would follow, that Human Virtues were 
nothing more than fo many Modifications 
of Self-Love. And upon the fame Sup- 
pofition, Human Goodnefs would be of a 
quite different Nature from Divine Good 
nefs, as appears from what I have juft 
now obferved ^ which is as much as to 
fay, that it would be no Goodnefs at 
all. 

But after all, though Intereft can ^ never 
enter into the Nature and Conftitution of 
Virtue, yet why may it not be allowed 
to accompany and ftand befide her ? Not- 
witMtanding all that has been granted, I 
can fee no Reafon why Virtue, and the Re 
wards of Virtue muft needs be feparated, 

B and 



and fet at Variance. Its Excellencies and 
Advantages feem by God and Nature to be 
joined together, and why fhould Man at 
tempt to put them afunder? Let Virtue be 
decked in all her Charms :, let her be 
painted as lovely a Form as is poflible ^ 
there is no Danger of the Pictures out 
doing the Original. But (till, what Rea- 
fon can any Man have to* (trip her of her 
Dowry, and prefent her empty-handed? 
The Royal Moralift has represented her 
otherwife:, and in Conformity to his De- 
fcription, why may (he not be fet forth 
as holding temporal Advantages in one 
Hand, and a bleffed Immortality in the 
other? 

You fay, that Views and Intentions of 
Self-Good, in Proportion to the Extent of 
their Influence, are deftruclive of Virtue. 
And I grant, if they deftroy Benevolence, 
they deftroy Virtue. Or if they diminilh 
the former, they in Proportion diminifli 
the latter. But 1 am not able to difcover 
that they do either the one or the other. 
A certain Perfon believes nothing ei 
ther of Providence or a Future State , but 
yet has a contiderable Share of Benevo 
lence: And this Benevolence prompts him 
to fuitable Afts of Kindnefs and Benefi 
cence. Suppofe him afterwards convinced 
of thofe great Truths, what Effeft would 
they have upon him ? Would they take 
i away, 



C M 

away, or Men his Benevolence? I fee no 
Reafon to^fuppofe it. For how fhould a 
Man s aiming to procure himfelf Happinefs 
in another World, render him either dif- 
affeded, or lefs kind to his Brethren in 
this ? Since that Happinefs is fuppofed com 
mon to all that will qualify themfelves for 
it, _ there can be no interfering, no Compe 
tition of Intereft to occafion Contention, 
and impair Benevolence. And what elfe 
fhould do it, I cannot conceive. You will 
fay perhaps, that though his Benevolence 
do remain the fame, y-et that he is not 
equally influenced by it. That the new 
Motives which his Convidion has intro 
duced, muft affect his Determinations, and 
proportionally detrad from the Merit and 
Virtue of his good Actions. To which I 
anfwer, that however the new Motives may 
operate, they cannot hinder the Efficacy of 
the old one. Whatever Good they may 
produce over and above, (as indeed much 
may be expeded from their Conjunction 
with the former Principle) yet dill the Be 
nevolence being fuppofed, the fame in De 
gree muft, I think, remain the fame in 
Force and Influence. But let us hear what 
the Author of the CharaBerift icks fays about 
this Matter, 



B 2 



[ .a] 

can Fear or Hope confift in 
Reality with Virtue, or Goodnefs^ if it (land 
as a confiderable Motive to any A& , of 
which fome better Affe&ion ought alone, to 
have been a fufficient Caufe. Again : f In 
this Religious T)ifcipline ( vi&. of Hope and 
Fear ) the Principle of Self-Love which is 
naturally fo prevailing in us^ being improved 
and made jlronger every Day by the Exercife 
of the Paffwns in a.Snbjeft of more extended 
Self-Inter eft ^ there may be Reafon to appre 
hend, lefrthe Temper of this Kind ftould ex 
tend itfelf in general through all the Parts of 
Life. For if the. .Habit fa fitch, as to occa- 
tiGn in every ? articular ^ ,a ftriffer Attention 
te Self-Good^ and Interest, it musi infenjibly 
diminifo the Affections towards Publick Good, 
and introduce a certain Narrownefs of Spirit. 
Whether by this., the Author did not mean 
tofhew, or infinuate the Inconvenience and 
Damage that Virtue Curtains., from the fa-. 
ture and invifible Motives of Religion, let 
the Reader judge. My Bufinefs is ^to (hew,, 
if I can, that, thefe Apprehenfions are 
groundlefs ; and that in fome Cafes, a siritf 
Attention to Self-Good, is of great Service 

to the Publick. -If I be not very much 

deceived, the Motives of Religion are fo 
far from weakening or lefTenirig Benevo* 

* Vpl. U, Pag, 8, 



[ 3] 

lence, that they naturally tend to increafe 
and ftrengthen it. By thefe Motives I 
mean the pofitive Rewards which we be 
lieve Revelation has fet before us, added to 
thofe Advantages and Enjoyments which 
naturally flow from Virtue. That is, that 
complex Good, which is meant by a bleffed 
Immortality, of whatfoever Ingredients it 
may confift. Let it then be confidered, 
what Effefts the Expectation of this great 
and endlefs Happinefs is like to have on 
the Minds of Men. Now I think it na 
turally tends to give them great Peace and 
Tranquillity of Mind, and to make them 
habitually well pleafed and joyful, in pro 
portion to the Strength of their Hopes. The 
Queftion then is, Whether this Tranquillity 
and Joy do not as naturally tend to increafe 
and cherifli Benevolence :, and by Confe- 
quence contribute to that Goodnefs of Tem 
per which our Author requires. This I 
own is no Queftion with me : However, 
I am willing it fhould be determined by 
Experience and Obfervation. Recoiled, 
Sir, what you have feen and known, and 
tell me whether, extern Paribw, thofe Men 
be not raoft benevolent and kindly difpofed, 
who are beft pleafed with their Hopes and 
Profpefts. Do not compare this to thofe 
Mechanical Affections, which rife and fall 
with our Spirits, and depend on the little 
Accidents and Events of Human Life. For 

as 



4 

as this is regular and conftant as the Caufe 
which produced it, fo it is aided by Rea- 
fon, and ftrengthen d by Reflection. When 
Men confider how their Labours here will 
be recompenfed and crowned hereafter, and 
what an inexhau ftible Fund of Happinefs 
God has provided for them in the next 
Life y their Minds are filled not only with 
pleafing Expectations of their own Blifs, 
but with a grateful Senfe of his Bounty and 
Goodnefs : And fmce they cannot pofllbly 
make him any Requital, their Gratitude 
naturally flows put in Streams of Kind- 
rfcfs upon theiY Fellow-Creatures. This, 
I fay, is not only natural, but highly a- 
g;Yeeable to Reafon , and even Revelation. 
- 1 - Again, how nnift it endear Good 
Men to one another, -to confider themfelves 
as Perfons defigned for a perpetual Coha 
bitation hereafter > Members of an im 
mortal Society, and Friends and Compa 
nions for ever ! Here are Bonds of Love, 
and Principles of Benevolence, which only 
Religion can furnifli , and which entirely 

depend on the Rewards of Futurity. On 

the other Hand , if we fuppofe Mankind 
without any Hope, any Profped in ano 
ther World , expecting nothing more, than 
as foon as this Life was done, to perifh and 
be extinct -, fuch a Thought , fuch a Be 
lief as this, would be fufficient to damp 
every good Defign , and ftrike all Virtue 

dead. 



C * 

dead. Upon this Suppofition, how few 
would give themfelves Trouble to do good 
Offices either for others, or themfelves? 
Who would think it worth his while to ex 
ert himfelf vigoroufly in the Service of the 
Pubiick, if he knew that in a few Years, 
both he and they were to lofe their Exi- 
ftence, and fink together into utter Obli 
vion? Men would then almofl give them 
felves up to fad Thoughts , and gloomy 
Reflections :, and in fuch a dejeded, difcon- 
folate State as this, what Room, what En 
couragement to cultivate virtuous Difpo- 
fitions? Surely Benevolence mud, at leaft, 

thrive ill in fuch a Soil. -In fhort, to 

prefcribe and preach up Virtue without a 
Future State, appears to me no otherwife 
than as a Sort of Religious Knight-Errantry. 
However Men may gaze or liften for a 
while, they will never be influenced by 
a Doflrine that is carried fo high, as to 
be above the Principles of Human Na 
ture. 

Upon the whole, what our Author s real 
Opinion was concerning Futurity, he has 
not thought fit to inform us , nor fhall I 
prefume to determine. He often throws 
out oblique Hints againft Infinite Rewards-^ 
and as ofren fpeaks in Favour of common 
and natural Virtms ; But what to conclude 
from hence, perhaps you, Sir, may know 
better than I do. I iliall therefore leave 

thefe 



[ <*] 

thefe Ambiguities and Uncertainties, and 

proceed to fomething that is clearer. 

He has exprefly granted, that the Principle 
of Rewards and Punifliments, how merce 
nary or fervile foever it may be accounted^ 
is yet in many Circuniftances a great Advan 
tage^ Security, and Support to Virtue *. And 
fince you feem to be fo far of a different 
Opinion in refpeft of Rewards, as to make 
Virtue its own fufficient Reward, and to 
think it depredated by any other:, I muft 
defire you to perufe and weigh what the 
Author has added about this Matter. In 
the mean Time, give me leave to offer you 
the following Confiderations. 

Let it be obferved then in the firft Place, 
how fmall a Proportion of Mankind are ca 
pable of difcerning in any confiderable 
Degree, the inward Beauty and Excellence 
of Virtue. In the CharaBertfticks we find 
a good Tafle required for this Purpofe ^ 
and whether that Tafte be derived from 
Nature or Education, there is ^ little Rea- 
fon to exped it fhould be found in the Bulk 
of Mankind. Nor will even ^that Moral 
Senfe, which an excellent Writer has of 
late contended for in another Enquiry f , 
prove much more effectual. For fuppofe it to 

* Vol. II. Pag. 60. 

t Enquiry into the original Ideas of Beauty and 
Virtue. 

be 



[ 73 

be as real and extenfive as he reprefents it, 
yet if it be not kept up and cherifhed by 
Care, Attention, and the Practice of Vir 
tue, it muft foon grow dull, if it be not 
almoft extinguiflied. How then can it be 
imagined, that in refpect of the Generality 
of the World, it fhould be fufficient for the 
Support of Morality, and the Maintenance 
of Virtue ? I need not further obferve how 
little probability there is of their arriving 
at fuch a Knowledge by abftracted Reafo- 
nings and Speculations. To expect indeed 
any way that the greateft Part of Mankind 
fhould have jufl Ideas of Virtue, and un* 
derftand its worth ; is to expeft that the 
greateft Part of Mankind fhould become 
Philofophers . But fuppofing the Excel 
lence of Virtue were in a good Meafure per 
ceived by them, how would they be af- 
fefted by it ? What flight hold would fuch 
intellectual Beauties take on the Under- 
ftandings of the Vulgar , and how feebly 
would they operate upon them? It muft be 
fomething more fubftantial that can make 
any confiderable Impreflion on their grofs 
Minds : Something that can either flrike 
their Senfes, pr work upon their Paflions. 
And what can be fitter for this Purpofe than 
Rewards and Punifhments? Thefe excite 
their ftrongeft Paflions, and work upon Man 
kind more powerfully than any tiling 
CQuld do. Moft certain it is, that 

G 



r i 

ever thefe fail to bring Men to their Duty, 
nothing would be fufficient*, nothing, I 
mean, lefs than Compulfion, which is in- 
confiftent with our Nature. The Wifdom 
and Goodnefs of God are very confpicupus 
therefore in this Provifion for our Security, 
Such ftrong Sanctions were abfolutely ne- 
ceflfary: And however vicious Men may 
be with them, they would have been infi 
nitely more fo without them. 

But further , to difcover the Neceflity of 
thefe Motives, we ought to confider a great 
Part of Mankind as deeply engaged in 
finful Courfes. It is reafonable to think, that 
regard muft be had to the reclaiming of 
thefe. To facilitate the Converfion of Evil 
Men, you will allow, Sir, to be an Inten 
tion worthy of infinite Goodnefs. Is then 
the Excellence of Virtue to be looked upon 
as a Caufe adequate to fuch an Effect? Was 
it proper that the Reformation of the Wick 
ed fhould be wholly left to their own Rea- 
fon -, or, if you will, to that Moral Se?ife 
before fpoken of? Alas! their Reafon is ex 
ceedingly darkened and depraved :> and 
their Moral Senfe muft be grown very lan 
guid, if it be not quite loft. Reprefent to 
a vicious Man the Beauty of Virtue, you 
fpeak to him in a Language that he does 
not underftand. Let Virtue her felf plead 
her own Caufe, and fet forth her own Me 
rit, he will not fo much as bear the Voice of 

the 



t IP ] 

ike Charmer. His Eyes, his Ears, his 
Heart are fixed upon quite different Objeds - 5 
infomuch that all Attempts from this Quar 
ter are utterly loft upon him. But let him 
be told that the Paths in which he is en 
gaged lead to- his Ruin :, that he is incurring 
endlefs M fery, and forfeiting eternal Hap* 
pinefs: This may probably work upon him, 
if he be not quite incorrigible. Such for 
cible Arguments will prevail, if any thing 
can : In fliort, a ftrong Attachment to Sin 
produced by Inclination, and confirmed by 
Cuftom, all Men allow is hard to be broken* 
I would only ask then, whether your Prin 
ciple taken alone, or reinforced by Gofpel- 
Motives, be more likely to do it. I believe 
you will be fo reafonable, and fo ingenuous 

as to fay the latter. But perhaps you 

W lladd, that Converts thus made, are not 
Converts to Virtue, as being afted and fwayed 

merely by Confiderations of Intereft. 

I have already told you why I cannot agree 
to fuch a Conclufion : But here I mufl rejeft 
it upon another Account. He who removes 
out of the Ways of Vice into the Ways of 
Virtue, wholly from a Regard to his own 
Safety and Welfare, may, and probably 
will, if he continue therein, be influenced 
afterwards by higher Confiderations, and 
become virtuous at laft even upon your 
own Principle. This is a natural Suppofi- 
ticm s The Author of the CbaraSerifticks 

C a takes 



c 

takes notice of it - 3 and I doubt not but it is 
often verified in Faft. And indeed what 
wonder if a Man, who embraces Virtue 
upon any Principle, difcover the Beauty 
and Excellency of it fooner than he who is 
wallowing in Sin and Senfuality? And this, 
if I miftake not, clearly (hews the Ufeful- 
nefs and Advantage of the Motives thatj 
am defending. They draw Men out of their 
evil Courfes, which no other Inducements 
have Power to do :, and then commit them 
into the Hands of Virtue, to be taught and 
intruded by her ever after. And thus ha 
ving fo fair an Opportunity of discovering 
her Worth, it is not to be imagined that 
they will long continue ftrangers to it. Be 
reconciled then , Sir , to thofe Motives 
which you have hitherto difapproved :, if 
it be for no other Reafon, than that they 
manifeftly fupport and ftrengthen your own 
Principle. 

Another Proof how ufeful thefe Motives 
are to Virtue, and how necefTary to fupport 
it, may be drawn from a State of Suffering ^ 
and more efpecially from the Cafe of Per- 
fecution. A confidcrate Mind that is at 
cafe, unmolefted by Want, or Grief, or 
Pain, may be fuppofed carable of obfer- 
ving the Excellence of Virtue, and of re 
ceiving fuitable Impreflions from it. He is 
at leifure to refleft upon it without Diffra 
ction, and the more he reflefts, the more 

reafon 



reafon he will find to approve and admire 
it. But when a Man is funk into Adverfity, 
and has various Hardfhips to ftruggle with ^ 
efpecially when thefe Hardfhips are occafio- 
ned and brought upon him by his adhe 
rence to Virtue -, will he not then want fome 
further Support than Virtue is able to give 
him ? What Confolation can flie pour into 
an afflifted and forrowful Breaft ? What 
Remedies can flie adminifter to heal his 
Grief, and footh him in his Sufferings? 
She may ftill appear lovely in his Eyes - 
ftill difplay her Beauty, and fliine out with 
her ufual Luftre: But is this fufficient to 
mitigate his Pains , or difpel the thick 
Gloom that hangs over his Heart? , Ex 
tol Virtue, Sir, as much as you can :, ex- 
liauft your Eloquence in her Praife : Yet 
after all, Truth will oblige you to acknow 
ledge, that (he is impotent in the Day of 
Adverfity, and not capable alone of fup- 
porting Men in Diftrefs. The Stoicks in 
deed denied this with great Refolution and 
Obftinacy ^ but their boaftful Declarations 
on this Head, were in reality only fo many 
Infults upon human Nature, and Contradi- 

ftions to common Experience . Moft 

certainly nothing can fupport a Man under 
the Preffure of any great Evil , but the 
Hope and Profpeft of fucceeding; Good : 
And if he fuffers in the Caufe of Virtue, 
tis plain that fomething is wanting to make 

up 



up her Deficiencies, and cpmpenfate his 
Sufferings. So that here again we perceive 
tbe great Ufefuhiefs of thofe Rewards and 
Encouragements which Heaven has annex 
ed to Virtue, and entailed upon her Vota 
ries. Here is more than an Equivalent for 
the moft grievous Sufferings ^ a Comfort 
adminiftred, that has Strength and Sub- 
ftance capable of bearing up the moft de- 
jefted Spirits, and fuflaining all their In- 
firmities. But this Obfervation will ftill 
appear to have greater Weight, if we ex 
tend it to the Cafe of Perfecution. Let us 
confider a Man fuffering Martyrdom, and 
behold him led by Truth and Virtue to a 
Stake : In this Extremity how is he to be 
fupported - 5 whither can he turn for relief? 
What can bare Virtue do for him, in the 
Height of Torture, and the Agonies of 
Death? Would he not naturallv fly out into 
Brutus s Exclamation, and loudly complain 
that Virtue had betrayed him ? Would you 
expect to fupport and comfort him in his lafl 
Moments, by a lively Reprefentation of her 
Charms? Alas! it would avail no more at 
that Jundure, than the Contemplation of 
forne fine Pifture. Whereas, let but Reli 
gion ftep in to his Aid, and lift up his Eyes 
to thofe Jovs and Glories that (he has pre 
pared for him above:, he is comforted at 
once -, his Torments are in a manner for 
gotten : The Flames have loft their Force, 

and 



and Death its Sting, and he paffes trium 
phant into another World. 

I defire, Sir, you will not look upon 
this as a Flight of Enthufiafm, or a fan 
ciful Defcription carried beyond the Bounds 
of Truth. The Hiftory of our Religion, 
furnifhes us with a Multitude of Vouch 
ers, and fets before us many Inftances of 
the Power and Efficacy of thofe Motives 
againft which you objeft , and that in fuch 
Circumftances as I have been fpeaking of. 
And the fame might be obferved in Re- 
fped of the Temptations incident to Prof- 
perity, which would be more powerful and 
prevailing than they are, if it were not for 
the Influences of another World. 
Does it not appear then from the fore 
going Confiderations , that thefe Motives 
greatly befriend Virtue, and ftrengthen 
her Interefts? We plainly fee fhe is not 
felf-fufficient , and how could her Defects 
be better fupplied, than by thofe Rewards 
which Revelation has offered Men? I de- 
fire no more, than that they may be looked 
upon as her Auxiliaries :, and fuch, I think, 
upon an impartial Enquiry, you muft dif- 
cover them to be. 

I might farther obferve, that Mankind 
is much indebted to thefe Motives, as they 
occafion the doing of much more Good in 
the World, than otherwife would be done. 
Diforder, much Mifchief is hereby 

pre- 



04] 

prevented , and many Aftions performed, 
highly beneficial to the Publiclr, as well 
as advantageous to ^ private Perfons. And 
fuppofing fuch Aftions were in no Cafe , 
and in no Degree, truly Virtuous; yet fince 
fo much Benefit redounds from them, and 
they fo much conduce to the Welfare of 
Mankind:, that Principle from whence they 
fpring, muft be allowed to be very ufeful. 
Were we to fubftradt from the Good that 
has been done in the World , that Share 
which was owing to Profpeds of Advan 
tage, and Views of Intereft:, the Remain 
der, in all likelihood, would not be ve 
ry confiderable. And yet this Remainder 
would have been the Whole, if we fup- 
pofe Virtue ftripped of all Advantages, 

and left to her felf. As Man is a 

reafonable Creature, he is capable of dif- 
covering and admiring the intrinfick Excel 
lence of Virtue j but neverthelefs, as he is 
confcious of his own Indigence and Infir 
mity, he cannot well pretend to neglect 
thofe Appendages of Intereft that belong to 
her. Tis Vanity and Prefumption in 
him to flight thofe Advantages which are 
fo neceffary to his Weil-Being. On the 
other Hand tis mean, and mercenary, to 
purfue thcfe Advantages alone. To pre 
vent both, God has clofely connected our 
Duty and Intereft, and interwoven ihim to? 
gether. And this Conjunction has been of 

great 



[ 5 

great Service to Mankind at all Times, and 
upon all Occafions. I believe it may be 
faid, that from this complicated Principle 
have flowed all thofe great and illuftrious 
Aftions that make fuch a Figure in Hiftory, 
and have been the Delight and Admiration 
of all Ages. Many of the antient Heroes 
of Greece and Rome had a lively Senfe of 
Virtue, and were efpecially famous for the 
Love of their Country, and an inviolable 
Attachment to the Interefts thereof: But 
was this the only Principle that prompted 
them to ad fo heroically, and deferve fo 
well of Mankind ? Were they not alfo 
excited and animated by an ardent Third 
after Glory ? Did they not expeft to im 
mortalize their Names, and perpetuate the 
Fame of their Actions? When Socrat.es 
fell a Sacrifice to Truth and Virtue, did 
he not propofe to pleafe God and pro 
cure his Favour? A nobler View indeed 
than the other :, but yet it was a View of 
Intereft, though fuch a one as Virtue can 
never be afhamed of. A Defire to pleafe 
the fupreme Being, and obtain his Appro 
bation, is fo wife and worthy an Intenti 
on, fo juft a Principle of Aftion, fo agree 
able to the Dictates of right Reafon, and 
the genuine Inclinations of human Nature, 
that it may feem to rival the pureft and 
moft difinterefted Love of Virtue, or at 

D lead 



r ** 

leaft to claim a Place very near it. In 
Socrates they were joined together, as in 
deed they always ought to be. His ex 
alted Mind faw, what only Revelation could 
teach others -, that to difunite Virtue and 
Intereft, and follow either feparately, was 
to act contrary to Nature, and the Rules 
of found Wifdom: And while others de 
voted themfelves to the Purfuit of earthly 
Fame and human Praife, that Shadow of 
Honour - 5 he found out and followed the 
Subftance :> driving to recommend himfelf 
to that Being, in whofe Approbation con- 
fids the Perfeftion of all Glory. In (hort, 
that he left this World with fo much In^ 
difference, or rather Inclination, was owing 
to the ftrong Hopes he had of the Joys 

and Glories of another. Of his Cha- 

rafter and Conduct ( perhaps the bed in all 
the Heathen World ) I have taken more 
particular Notice, that it might difpofe you 
to hear with lefs Prejudice what is ex- 
prefsly owned concerning the great Foun 
ders cf our Religion - 5 or at lead, to ob 
viate fuch Exceptions as you might o- 
therwife be apt to make. When it is faid, 
that the one had refpeEi to the Recompense 
cf Reward, and that the other endured the 
Crofs, and defpifed the Shame, for the Joy 
(bat was fet before him - 5 this is abundant 
Authority for us Believers, and fully af- 
5 fures 



fares us, that the rriixed Principle before- 
mentioned is perfectly right. We are 
hence throughly convinced, that Intereft 
may be regarded and propofed, without 
any Diminution of Virtue, or Derogation 
from it ^ and in fliort, that they are and 
ought to be indiilblubly united. As you 
difown this Authority , I am content to 
i-efer you to the Reafori of the Thing *, 
only defiring, as I juftly may, that what 
was never objefted againft Socrates^ may 
Hot be objected againft Mofes and Chrift. 

Having complied with your Requeft, and 
laid before you my Sentiments, though 
briefly, concerning a Book that you think 
fit to call your Oracle^ and that is efteemed 
and ftudied by you accordingly : Let me 
intreat you in my Turn, to refume and 
re-examine with the fame impartiality that 
you required from me, that Book which 
we believe to be truly and ftridly Oracu 
lar : Bring along with you that Venera 
tion for Morality and Virtue which you 
profefs, and try whether you cannot find 
in the New Teflanient the nobleft Precepts 
and fublimeft Paterns that you ever met 
with* As you may there difcover the Rea- 
fonablenefs, the Fitnefs, the Ufefulnefs of 
thofe Motives which I have been contending 
for ^ fo you may obferve notwithftanding, 
the moft exalted Benevolence both taught 

D 2 and 



and exemplified. You may there have 

the Pleafure of perceiving all human Duty 
refolvecl into the Love of God and Man. 
You will alfo find Self-Love made the Rule 
of our Love for others , and all Behaviour, 
all Proceedings towards others forbidden, 
except fuch as we judge to be reafonable 
towards our felves : You will find real Af- 
feftion and unfeigned Good-Will efTentially 
conftituting Chriftian Charity , and all out 
ward Acts of Beneficence declared to be 
ineffectual and worthlefs, that do not proceed 
from that inward Principle : You will find 
Benevolence and Kindnefs laid down as the 
Rule by which Men will be finally judg 
ed^ and thofe reprefented as moft deferving, 
who do the moft good in proportion to 
their Abilities : But what I would more par 
ticularly point out to your Obfervation, is 
the Extent and Diffufivenefs of Chriftian 
Benevolence, which comprehends, as you 
would wifh it to do, the whole Species, and 
fpreads itfelf over the Face of the whole 
Earth. Inftead of that partial Love, thofe 
contracted AfFedions, whether for Kindred, 
Neighbours , Friends or Country, which 
both Jews and Gentiles were too apt to run 
into, and even make their boaftof:, Chrj- 
ftianity requires us to love all without Di- 
ftinftion, and opening our Arms as wide 
as poflible, embrace Mankind with an uni- 

verfal 



verfal Good-will. How will you be able 
to forbear admiring the Noblenefs and Ge- 
nerofity of thofe Precepts, which throwing 
down the narrow Limits and Boundaries 
of Affection which had been at any time 
fet up, enlarge and draw it out to the ut- 
moft , and will have nothing lefs than the 
whole human Kind to be the proper and 
adequate Objed of human Love ? Not that 
the Gofpel intends to loofen the Ties of 
Nature, or diffolve the Obligations arifing 
from any of the Relations before-mentioned ^ 
but to fix them in their proper Order, and 
make them fubordinate to that Obligation, 
which of all others is the ftrongeft and 
moft natural. And very fitting it was, to 
rectify the Miftakes of thofe, who had fo 
far inverted the Duties of Benevolence, as 
to degrade that, which next to the Love of 
God, is the higheft of all : And it was well 
if fome went not fo far, as even to difcard 
it. 

But to return-, how juft, how fine an 
Explication of the Precept concerning the 
Love of our Neighbour , will you find 
couched under the Parable of the Good 
Samaritan? How beautiful appears the 
Aftion, how amiable the Character? In Op- 
pofition to thofe who underftood the Word 
Neighbour in too literal and narrow a Senfe, 
our Saviour has here informed us, in a 

moft 



C 30 

moft lively and elegant Manner, that it is 
not to be reftrained to nearnefs of Situa 
tion, Familiarity, or Acquaintance-., but 
that every Human Creature, whatever be 
his Country, his Manners, his Religion, is 
to be reputed our Netgloboiir, and treated 
as fuch. Had a Foreigner of fome remote 
Country been reprefented as the Perfon in 
Diftrefs, or as the Perfon who relieved 
him, the fined Part of the Illuftration had 
been loft. But the Object of Compaffiort 
is a Jew , and Succour is brought him 
by a Samaritan :, who breaking through 
the National and Religious Prejudices that 
pofTefTed and mutually inflamed the Minds 
of thofe People againft each other, funs 
to his Relief, and treats him with as much 
Humanity and Tendernefs of Affection i 
as if he had been not only his Neighbour, 
but his Brother. The generous Samaritan 
confiders him only as a Man in Diftrefst 
This was enough to excite his Compaf- 
fion, and quicken his Care. All Animo- 
fities are laid afleep and forgotten, and he 
extends his Arms, and opens his Purfe, for 
the Prefervation of a Life that would 
otherwife have been loft. What a Pattern 
of true Benevolence is here ! a Pattern that 
our Saviour has commanded us to imitate ^ 
and which you, Sir, muft allow to be high 
ly worthy of our Imitation. -Let me 

only 



[3 ] 

only obferve further, by the Way, that 
whoever through Party-Prejudice, or Con* 
trariety of Sentiment , fh fies his Pity, or 
withholds Relief, upon lefiTer Occafions than 
this , is fo far only a Chrifiian in Name, 
By fuch a Violation of Humanity, he dou 
bly violates Chriftianity ; which, I venture 
to afTure you, is only Humanity fublimated 
and refined, and brought nearer to Per 
fection. 

It has been objected againft our Religi 
on, that it takes fo little Notice of Friend- 
/;//?, as neither prefcribing it, nor recom 
mending it to Men s Choice and Appro 
bation. But how unjuft and groundlefs 
is this Objeftion ? If Men reckon Friend- 
friip among their Privileges, yet why 
muft they infift upon its being made a 
Duty? As a Privilege, is it not enough 
that it is permitted, and no where pro 
hibited :, Or however, is it not fufficient, 
that Chrift has countenanced it by his 
own Example, in taking one of his Dif- 
ciples into his Bofom, and admitting him 
into a fuperior Share of his Familiarity 
and Love ? But as to his Silence on this 
Subject, whoever rightly confiders the Mat- 
.ter, will find little Reafon to wonder at 
it. It was not his Intention to ftraiten 
Mens Affeftions, which perhaps were too 
rpucli flraitened Already j but to widen 

and 



and enlarge them. He did not aim to 
collect the Rays of Mens Love, and 
center them upon (ingle Objefts , to the 
Prejudice of others :, but rather ftrove to 
fpread them far and wide, and make them 
as diffufive as poflible. If he faw, as pro 
bably he did, that while Men warmed 
their Breafts with private Friendfhips, 
they grew in Proportion cooler towards 
the Publick , was there any Reafon to 
add Fuel to fuch a Flame? We may fup- 
pofe him willing rather to check this In 
clination , than to cultivate it. , Howe 
ver, fince he neither exprefly approve^ 
nor condemned Friendfhip, this at lead 
ought to content us. As his great De- 
fign was to promote univerfal Love and 
Charity, it may rather be wonder d, that 
he fliould even connive at thofe particu 
lar Unions that might feem to interfere 
with it, than that he (hould pafs them 
over in profound Silence. But let me add, 
that how little foever he has thought fit 
to promote the Love of Friends, he has 
not only encouraged, but ftricUy enjoined 
the Love of Enemies: A Duty but little 
known, and lefs pradifed, before his Ap 
pearance. This (hows, that lie was more 
follicitous to fupply Defefts, than to prune 
away Redundancies. The Excellency of 
this Doctrine, the Agreeablenefs of it to 

un- 



[33] 

uncorrupt ^Reafon, and the Improve 
ment it brings to Morality, are Subjects 
too copious to be infifted on at this 
Time. 

I proceed therefore to obferve, that as 
our Saviour did not enjoin Friendship , 
though he thought fit, as he fafely might, 
to practife it himfelf , fo the fame may be 
faid of a higher Attachment *, I mean the 
Love of our Country^ which has been fo 
much and fo often celebrated by other Mo- 
ralifts. Though he has fet Men a bright 
Example of it, I do not remember thatlhe 
has given any exprefs Precept concerning 
it. And the Reafon I take to be the fame 
in this Cafe, as in the former. Man s 
Love of his Country is doubtlefs a noble 
Affedion , and if it were always regularly 
entertained and purfued, too much Counte 
nance and Encouragement could never be 
given it. But if through Mens Imprudence 
and Folly, it contributes to weaken or dif- 
folve higher Obligations :> if it tends to 
contraft their Minds , and alienate their 
Affe&ions from the reft of Mankind, tis 
no longer Praife- worthy, but inglorious and 
detrimental. If the Jews fell into 
fuch a Partiality - 5 if they were difaffefted 
to other Nations, and too fond of them- 
felves :, it rnuft be owned they had a better 
Excufe than any other People could pre- 

E tend 



[ 34 ] 

lend to. They were fenced about by Di 
vine Laws, and a ftrong Partition was 
thrown up between them and the reft of 
the World :, to prevent the Infedion of Ido 
latry, which they were fo prone to catch. 
The Greeks and Romans had the fame 
Partiality for themfelves, without any fuch 
Pretence-, and they covered it under the 
fpecious Names of Love, Piety, and Zeal. 
And in Truth, it had very beneficial Effefts at 
Home. It worked them up to an unufu- 
al Pitch of Induftry and Vigor , and pro 
duced many great Aftions, and fplendid 
Enterprizes. But after all, it had an ill 
Afpecl on the Nations round about them, 
who were often great Sufferers by it. They 
were not only called, but confidered as 
Barbarians, and almoft looked upon as 
Creatures -of another Species : Infulted up 
on every Occafion, and treated with great 
Cruelty and Scorn. That ftrong Paflion 
for their Country, which poflefs d the 
Minds, and influenced the Counfels of thofe 
polite Republicks, made them frequently 
aft like true Barbarians. It gave them a 
Right in their own Imaginations, to carry 
their Conquefts, and extend their Domini 
ons as far as they could : To invade the 
Territories of thofe who had never in 
jured, never provoked them ^ and put 
Chains about the Necks of innocent Kings 

and 



[ 35 ] 

and Princes.- -See, Sir, the Effeds of 

a mifguided and prepofterous Benevolence, 
and confefs that it flood in need of thofe 
wife Regulations which Chriftianity brought 
along with it. Here we learn, that the 
Love of Mankind ought to be the ruling 
and predominant Affection ^ and by Confe- 
quence, that no other ought to interfere 
with it, but every Thing, give way to it. 
That whatever other Paffions we entertain, 
we muft take Care to keep them fubordi- 
nate to this, without which they can nei 
ther be laudable nor innocent. In fliort, 
we may, and ought to be as kind and fer- 
viceable as we can to our Neighbours , 
Friends , and Country , but our Affeftions 
muft not flop there, nor be fuffered to ter 
minate on thefe Objects : For our Religion 
has commanded us to love all Men as. 
Neighbours, as Countrymen, as Friends > 
as Brethren. 

I need not extend this Obfervation to 
Mens Affection for their Kindred , which 
muft needs be fubjeft to the fame Rules 
and Regulations. Whenever this natural 
Bias becomes too ftrong, it ought to be 
checked and counter-poifed. For no Incli 
nation, no Affection muft be fuffered to ri 
val that fupreme Principle, which you call 
the Love of Mankind, and we Chriftian, 
Charity. And how, Sir, can you re- 

E 2 tain 



[ 3*3 

tain any Prejudice againft a Religion that 
holds forth fuch a fublime Syftem of Mo 
rality? That contains Rules and Precepts, 
fo excellent, and fo divine? Examine the 
Wifdom of the Ancients , look through the 
Productions of all Ages ^ and if in any, or 
in all of them, a Scheme of Dodrine can 
be found, more juft and glorious in it felf, 
or more conducive to the Welfare and Per- 
fedion of Mankind :, that better anfwers all 
wife and good Purpofes, whether Human 
or Divine : inftead of recommending the 
Gofpel to you any more , I (hall ear- 
neftly intreat you to embrace that in the 
Room of it, and adhere to it while you 
live. 

When you have impartially confidered 
the Principles of Christianity, let me de- 
fire you to caft your Eye upon that illu- 
flrious Example , that perfed Pattern of 
Virtue and all Goodnefs which our Saviour 
has fet Men, Since you are fo fmitten 
(as well you may) with the Beauties of 
Virtue, and the Charms of Benevolence - y 
behold here the higheft Inftance of it, 
that ever appeared among the Children 
of Men! Feaft your Mind with the Con 
templation of a Character that is entirely 
rnade up of Love :, fuch Love, as no Eye, 
till then, had feen, nor Ear had heard, nei- 
ther Ipad it enter d into the Heart of Man 



[37] 

to conceive. Examine with the moft criti 
cal Exadnefs , mark its Features, and ob- 
ferve its Proportions and tell me if the 
Refult be not perfed Beauty : If it be not 
infinitely amiable and excellent from firft 

to laft.- That the Son of God fhould 

Veil his Glory, come down from Heaven, 
take our frail Nature upon him, and that 
under the Form of a Servant, making a low 
and obfcure Appearance, and cloathing 
himfelf in the humbleft Circumftances : 
That he (hould endure a fad Variety of Mi- 
fery, and undergo all manner of Shame and 
Contempt , Contradiction and Calumny 7 
Pain and Perfecution : That he fhould fub- 
mit to be outraged, infulted and abufed by 
the meaneft of Mankind :, bearing it with 
invincible Patience, Meeknefs, and Cori- 
flancy j and driving at the fame Time to do 
all poflible Good, even to thofe very Men, 
who thus malicioufly and impioufly treated 
him: In a word, that he fliould live a la 
borious and wretched Life, and after that 
die a painful and ignominious Death: And 
all this for us Men, and for our Salvation:, 
Rebels againft Heaven, and Apoftates from 
our Duty : This, I fay, is a Scene of fo 
aftonifhing a Nature, and every Thing in it 
is fo Great and Divine, as to be above the 
Power of Words, and the utmoft Reach of 
Expreflion. Such a Sublimity of Good- 

nefs 



C 38 ] 

nefs can no more be defcribed, than it can 
be imitated. I content my felf therefore 
with admiring it in Silence , and recom 
mending it to your ferious Contemplation : 
Not without Hopes, that fuch an unparal- 
lelled Example, added to fuch excellent Pre 
cepts, will be able to fcatter thofe Preju 
dices that cloud your Mind , and ob- 
ftruct your Belief, which is the earneit 
Wifh of, 



S I R, 

Tour moft Humble Servant^ 6Cc. 




00 KS printed for J. PEMBERTON^ 
the Golden-Buck, agamft St. Dunftan j- 
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i. r TH H E Ufe and Intent of Prophecy, In the 
JL feveral Ages of the World : In Six Di& 
courfes, delivered at the Temple Church, in April 
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Mailers of the Bench of the Two Honourable So 
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Fall. III. The Bleffing of JM, Gen. xlix. The 
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2. A Sermon preach d before the Sons cf the 
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St.Maryle-Bov. February if. 171?. 

7. A Sermon preach d before the Honourable 
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8. Twenty Eight Sermons and Difcouries upon 
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