Page images
PDF
EPUB

but lending a hand to the helping away of a dead justice: these, and a thousand incredibilities more, must be all believed, or the witnesses found to be most damnably forsworn, unless it were for the evidence's sake that they had credit given 'em; for the matter of fact, under such circumstances, was morally impossible to be true; and for the probity of the witnesses, they were already as well known as the whipping-post, for a pack of swearing, lying, cheating, a prostitute and an abandoned sort of mercenary villains and yet such was the infatuated credulity of the common people at that season, and such the bold and shameless hypocrisy of the managers of that imposture, that there was no place for either truth or honesty to appear. The inference I draw from this preposterous way of proceeding is, that the whole story, from end to end, was a practice; that the suborners of the perjury were also the protectors and the patrons of it both under one; and that they had their accomplices in the House of Commons upon this crisis of state, that played the same game which their forefathers had done upwards of forty years before.

There is more good taste in the style of Sir Roger L'Estrange's translations of ancient authors than in that of his original works. The following is a brief extract from his version of 'Seneca's Morals:'

[Ingratitude.]

6

The principal causes of ingratitude are pride and self-conceit, avarice, envy, &c. It is a familiar exclamation, 'Tis true, he did this or that for me, but it came so late, and it was so little, I had e'en as good have been without it: If he had not given it to me, he must have given it to somebody else; it was nothing out of his own pocket.' Nay, we are so ungrateful, that he that gives us all we have, if he leaves anything to himself, we reckon that he does us an injury. It cost Julius Cæsar his life the disappointment of his unatiable companions; and yet he reserved nothing of all that he got to himself, but the liberty of disposng it. There is no benefit so large, but malignity will still lessen it: none so narrow, which a good nterpretation will not enlarge. No man shall ever be grateful that views a benefit on the wrong side, or takes a good office the wrong handle. The avariious man is naturally ungrateful, for he never thinks he has enough, but without considering what he has, only minds what he covets. Some pretend want of

power to make a competent return, and you shall find in others a kind of graceless modesty, that makes a man ashamed of requiting an obligation, because

'tis a confession that he has received one.

Not to return one good office for another is inhuman; but to return evil for good is diabolical. There are too many even of this sort, who, the more they owe, the more they hate. There's nothing more dangerous than to oblige those people; for when they are conscious of not paying the debt, they wish the creditor out of the way. It is a mortal hatred that which arises

from the shame of an abused benefit. When we are

on the asking side, what a deal of cringing there is, and profession. Well, I shall never forget this favour, it will be an eternal obligation to me.' But, within a while the note is changed, and we hear no more words on't, till by little and little it is all quite forgotten. So long as we stand in need of a benefit, there is nothing dearer to us; nor anything cheaper when we have received it. And yet a man may as well refuse to deliver up a sum of money that's left him in trust, without a suit, as not to return a good office without asking; and when we have no value any further for the benefit, we do commonly care as little for the author. People follow their interest; one man is grateful for his convenience, and another man is ungrateful for the same reason.

DR RALPH CUDWORTH.

DR RALPH CUDWORTH (1617-1688) is celebrated as a very learned divine and philosopher of this age. He studied at the university of Cambridge, where, during the thirty years succeeding 1645, he held the office of regius professor of Hebrew. His principal work, which is entitled The True Intellectual System of the Universe, was published in 1678, and is designed as a refutation of the atheistical tenets which at that time were extensively held in England. It executes only a portion of his design; namely, the establishment of the following three propositions, which he regarded as the fundamentals or essentials of true religion: First, that all things in the world do not float without a head and governor; but that there is a God, an omnipotent understanding being, presiding over all. Secondly, that this God being essentially good and just, there is something in its own nature immutably and eternally just and unjust; and not by arbitrary will, law, and command only. And lastly, that we are so far forth principals or masters of our own actions, as to be accountable to justice for them, or to make us guilty and blame-worthy for what we do amiss, and to deserve punishment accordingly.' From this statement by Cudworth in his preface, the reader will observe that he maintained (in opposition to two of the leading doctrines of Hobbes), first, the existence of a natural and everlasting distinction between justice and injustice; and secondly, the freedom of the human will. On the former point he differs from most subsequent opponents of Hobbism, in ascribing our consciousness of the natural difference of right and wrong entirely to the reasoning faculties, and in no degree to sentiment or emotion. As, however, he confines his attention in the 'Intellectual System' to the first essential of true religion enumerated in the passage just quoted, ethical questions are in that work but incidentally and occasionally touched upon. combating the atheists, he displays a prodigious amount of erudition, and that rare degree of candour which prompts a controversialist to give a full statement of the opinions and arguments which he means to refute. This fairness brought upon him the reproach of insincerity; and by a contempo Socinian, Deist, and even Atheist, were freely aprary Protestant theologian the epithets of Arian, plied to him. He has raised,' says Dryden, such strong objections against the being of a God and Providence, that many think he has not answered them; the common fate,' as Lord Shaftesbury remarks on this occasion, of those who dare to appear fair authors.' This clamour seems to have dislishing the other portions of his scheme. heartened the philosopher, who refrained from pubhowever, several manuscript works, one of which, He left, entitled A Treatise concerning Eternal and Immutable Morality, but only introductory in its character, was published in 1731 by Dr Chandler, bishop of Durham. His unprinted writings are now in the British Museum, and include treatises on Moral Good and Evil, Liberty and Necessity, the Creation of the World and the Immortality of the Soul, the Learning of the Hebrews, and Hobbes's Notions concerning the Nature of God and the Extension of Spirits. Mr Dugald Stewart, speaking of the two published works, observes, that The Intellectual System of Cudworth embraces a field much wider than his The latter is treatise of Immutable Morality. particularly directed against the doctrines of Hobbes, and of the Antinomians;* but the former aspires to

In

·

The Antinomians were a sect of Presbyterians which sprang up during the confusion of the civil war in England. Their designation is a Greek compound, signifying enemies of

4

have not a perfectly comprehensive knowledge, or stich as is adequate and commensurate to the essences of things; from whence we ought to be led to this acknowledgment, that there is another Perfect Mind or Understanding Being above us in the universe, from which our imperfect minds were derived, and upon which they do depend. Wherefore, if we can have no idea or conception of anything, whereof we have not a full and perfect comprehension, then can we not have an idea or conception of the nature of any substance. But though we do not comprehend all truth, as if our mind were above it, or master of it, and cannot penetrate into, and look quite through the nature of everything, yet may rational souls frame certain ideas and conceptions, of whatsoever is in the orb of being proportionate to their own nature, and sufficient for their purpose. And though we cannot fully comprehend the Deity, nor exhaust the infiniteness of its perfection, yet may we have an idea of a Being absolutely perfect; such a one as is nostro modulo conformis, agreeable and proportionate to our measure and scantoriginalling; as we may approach near to a mountain, and touch it with our hands, though we cannot encompass it all round, and enclasp it within our arms. Whatsoever is in its own nature absolutely unconceivable, is nothing; but not whatsoever is not fully compre

tear up by the roots all the principles, both physical
and metaphysical, of the Epicurean philosophy. It
is a work, certainly, which reflects much honour on
the talents of the author, and still more on the
boundless extent of his learning; but it is so ill
suited to the taste of the present age, that, since the
time of Mr Harris and Dr Price, I scarcely recollect
the slightest reference to it in the writings of our
British metaphysicians. Of its faults (beside the
general disposition of the author to discuss questions
placed altogether beyond the reach of our faculties),
the most prominent is the wild hypothesis of a
plastic nature; or, in other words, "of a vital and
spiritual, but unintelligent and necessary agent,
created by the Deity for the execution of his pur-
poses." Notwithstanding, however, these and many
other abatements of its merits, the "Intellectual
System" will for ever remain a precious mine of in-
formation to those whose curiosity may lead them
A Latin
to study the spirit of the ancient theories."*
translation of this work was published by Mosheim
at Jena in 1733. A few specimens of the
are subjoined:-

[God, though Incomprehensible, not Inconceivable.]

It doth not at all follow, because God is incomprehensible by our imperfect understandings. hensible to our finite and narrow understandings, that he is utterly inconceivable by them, so that they cannot frame any idea of him at all, and he may therefore be concluded to be a non-entity. For it is certain that we cannot comprehend ourselves, and that we have not such an adequate and comprehensive knowledge of the essence of any substantial thing as that we can perfectly master and conquer it. It was a truth, though abused by the sceptics, akatalepton ti, something incomprehensible in the essence of the lowest substances. For even body itself, which the atheists think themselves so well acquainted with, because they can feel it with their fingers, and which is the only substance that they acknowledge either in themselves or in the universe, hath such puzzling difficulties and entanglements in the speculation of it, that they can never be able to extricate themselves from. We might instance, also, in some accidental things, as time and motion. Truth is bigger than our minds, and we are not the same with it, but have a lower participation only of the intellectual nature, and are rather apprehenders than comprehenders thereof. This is indeed one badge of our creaturely state, that we

the law,' it being their opinion that exhortations to morality

were unnecessary, at once to the elect, whom the divine grace would of itself lead to the practice of piety and virtue, and to the non-elect, whose salvation and virtuous conduct were, by the very circumstance of non-election, rendered impossible.

Some of the Antinomian doctors carried their views so far as to maintain, that as the elect cannot fall from grace, nor forfeit the divine favour, so it follows that the wicked actions they commit, and the violations of the divine law with which they are chargeable, are not really sinful, nor are to be considered as instances of their departing from the law of God; and that, consequently, they have no occasion either to confess their sins or to break them off by repentance.' Baxter and Tillotson were among the distinguished opponents of the tenets

of this sect.-(See Mosheim's Ecclesiastical History, cent. xvii. chap ii. sect. 23.) Cudworth, in his Treatise concerning

Eternal and Immutable Morality,' classes with the atheists of antiquity some of his contemporaries, who thought that God

may command what is contrary to moral rules; that he has no inclination to the good of his creatures; that he may justly doom an innocent being to eternal torments; and that what

ever God does will, for that reason is just, because he wills it.'

He does not mention, however, by what sect these views were

held.

*First Preliminary Dissertation to Encyclopædia Britannica, 7th edition, p. 44.

It is true, indeed, that the Deity is more incomprehensible to us than anything else whatsoever, which proceeds from the fulness of its being and perfection, and from the transcendency of its brightness; but for the very same reason may it be said also in some sense, that it is more knowable and conceivable than anything. As the sun, though by reason of its excessive splendour it dazzle our weak sight, yet is it, notwithstanding, far more visible also than any of the nebulose stelle-the small misty stars. Where there is more of light there is more visibility; so, where there is more of entity, reality, and perfection, there is more of conceptibility and cognoscibility; such a thing filling up the mind more, and acting more strongly upon it. Nevertheless, because our weak and imperfect minds are lost in the vast immensity and redundancy of the Deity, and overcome with its transcendent light and dazzling brightness, therefore hath it to us an appearance of darkness and incomprehensibility; as the unbounded expansion of light, in the clear transparent ether, hath to us the apparition of an azure obscurity; which yet is not an absolute thing in itself, but only relative to our sense, and a mere fancy in us.

being an argument against the reality of its existence, The incomprehensibility of the Deity is so far from as that it is most certain, on the contrary, that were there nothing incomprehensible to us, who are but contemptible pieces, and small atoms of the universe; were there no other being in the world but what our finite understandings could span or fathom, and encompass round about, look through and through, have a commanding view and perfectly conquer and subdue under them, then could there be nothing absolutely and infinitely perfect, that is, no God.

And nature itself plainly intimates to s that there is some such absolutely perfect Being, which, though not inconceivable, yet is incomprehensible to our finite understandings, by certain passions, which it hath implanted in us, that otherwise would want an object to display themselves upon; namely, those of devout veneration, adoration, and admiration, together with a kind of ecstacy and pleasing horror; which, in the silent language of nature, seem to speak thus much to us, that there is some object in the world so much bigger and vaster than our mind and thoughts, that it is the very same to them that the ocean is to narrow vessels; so that, when they have taken into themselves as much as they can thereof by contemplation,

and filled up all their capacity, there is still an immensity of it left without, which cannot enter in for want of room to receive it, and therefore must be apprehended after some other strange and more mysterious manner, namely, by their being plunged into it, and swallowed up or lost in it. To conclude, the Deity is indeed incomprehensible to our finite and imperfect understandings, but not inconceivable; and therefore there is no ground at all for this atheistic pretence to make it a non-entity.

[Difficulty of Convincing Interested Unbelievers.]

As for the last chapter, though it promise only a confutation of all the Atheistic grounds, yet we do therein also demonstrate the absolute impossibility of all Atheism, and the actual existence of a God. We say demonstrate, not a priori, which is impossible and contradictious, but, by necessary inference, from principles altogether undeniable. For we can by no means grant to the Atheists that there is more than a probable persuasion or opinion to be had of the existence of a God, without any certain knowledge or science. Nevertheless, it will not follow from hence that whosoever shall read these demonstrations of ours, and understand all the words of them, inust therefore of necessity be presently convinced, whether he will or no, and put out of all manner of doubt and hesitancy concerning the existence of a God. For we believe that to be true which some have affirmed, that were there any interest of life, any concernment of appetite and passion, against the truth of geometrical theorems themselves, as of a triangle having three angles equal to two right, whereby men's judgments may be clouded and bribed, notwithstanding all the demonstrations of them, many would remain at least sceptical about them.

[Creation.]

Because it is undeniably certain, concerning ourselves, and all imperfect beings, that none of these can create any new substance, men are apt to measure all things by their own scantling, and to suppose it universally impossible for any power whatever thus to create. But since it is certain that imperfect beings can themselves produce some things out of nothing pre-existing, as new cogitations, new local motion, and new modifications of things corporeal, it is surely reasonable to think that an absolutely perfect Being can do something more, that is, create new substances, or give them their whole being. And it may well be thought as easy for God, or an Omnipotent Being, to make a whole world, matter and all, as it is for us to create a thought or to move a finger, or for the sun to send out rays, or a candle light; or, lastly, for an opaque body to produce an image of itself in a glass or water, or to project a shadow; all these imperfect things being but the energies, rays, images, or shadows of the Deity. For a substance to be made out of nothing by God, or a Being infinitely perfect, is not for it to be made out of nothing in the impossible sense, because it comes from Him who is all. Nor can it be said to be impossible for anything whatever to be made by that which hath not only infinitely greater perfection, but also infinite active power. It is indeed true, that infinite power itself cannot do things in their own nature impossible; and, therefore, those who deny creation, ought to prove, that it is absolutely impossible for a substance, though not for an accident or modification, to be brought from non-existence into being. But nothing is in itself impossible which does not imply contradiction; and though it be a contradiction to be and not to be at the same time, there is surely no contradiction in conceiving an imperfect being, which before was not, afterwards to be.

DR RICHARD CUMBERLAND.

DR RICHARD CUMBERLAND (1632-1718), another learned and amiable divine of the church of England, was raised by King William to the see of Peterborough in 1688. He had previously published, in 1672, a Latin work, De Legibus Naturæ Disquisitio Philosophica, &c.; or, A Philosophical Inquiry into the Laws of Nature; in which their form, order, promulgation, and obligation, are investigated from the nature of things; and in which, also, the philosophical principles of Hobbes, moral as well as civil, are considered and refuted.' This modest and erudite, but verbose production (of which two English translations have appeared), contains many sound and at that time novel views on moral science, along with others of very doubtful soundness. The laws of nature he deduces from the results of human conduct, regarding that to be commanded by God which conduces to the happiness of man. He wrote also a learned Essay towards the Recovery of the Jewish Weights and Measures, comprehending their Monies, and a translation of Sanchoniatho's Phoenician History. In the performance of his episcopal duties he displayed a rare degree of activity, moderation, and benevolence. When expostulated with by his friends on account of the great labour which he underwent, he replied, I will do my duty as long as I can; a man had better wear out than rust out.' He lived, however, to the advanced age of eighty-six, in the enjoyment of such mental vigour, that he successfully studied the Coptic language only three years before his death.

[The Tabernacle and Temple of the Jews.]

The fit measures of the tabernacle and temple, to the uses of the whole nation of the Jews, demonstrate God's early care to settle his people Israel, in the form of one entire national church, under Moses, Aaron, and the other priests, who were general officers for all Israel. The church in the wilderness, mentioned by Saint Stephen (Acts vii. 38), was thus national, and is the first collective body of men called a church in the Scripture language, by a man full of the evangelical spirit.

Synagogues for particular neighbourhoods' convenience, in the public exercise of religion, were introduced long after, by the pious prudence of the national governors of the Jewish church and state, and accordingly were all subordinate to them. It is to be observed, also, that this limited place for public national worship was within their own nation, in the midst of their camp in the wilderness, in their own land in Canaan. No recourse from it to a foreign church by appeals, but all differences finally decided within their own nation, and therein all, even Aaron, although the high priest, and elder brother to Moses, yet was subject to Moses, who was king in Jesurun. By these means all schismatical setting up of one altar against another was prevented; national communion in solemn and decent piety, with perfect charity, was promoted; which being no shadows, but the most substantial concerns of religion, are to be preserved in the gospel times.

Hereby is more evidently proved the magnificence. symmetry, and beauty that was in the structure of the temple; and the liberal maintenance which God provided for the Levites his ministers. For if the cubit by ine proposed determine the area both of the temple and of the priests' suburbs (as the Scripture sets them both out by cubits), they must be much longer; and if they were set out by so many shorter cubits (suppose cubits of 18 inches), in such proportion as the squares of these different cubits bear to each other, by the 19th and 20th proposition of

Euclid's 6th book. But the square of these different cubits are in foot measure, which is here more convenient, as 3, 82 to 2, 25; the bigger of which is near half as much more as the less. Therefore the areas of the temple, and of the priests' suburbs, are, according to my measure, near half as big again as they would be if determined by that shorter cubit.

Such greatness of the temple Solomon intimates to the king of Tyre to be requisite, as best suiting with the greatness of God (2 Chronicles ii. 5). This reason, alleged by Solomon to a heathen, must be of moral or natural, and therefore perpetual force, continuing to evangelical times; and therefore intimating to us, that even now magnificent and stately buildings are useful means to signify what great and honourable thoughts we have of God, and design to promote in those that come to the places of his public worship. And from God's liberal provision of land in the Levites' suburbs, besides other advantages, we are taught by Saint Paul, that even so those that preach the gospel should live of the gospel (1 Cor. ix. 14).

The fitness, safety, and honour of keeping to the use of such indifferent things, as have been determined by law or custom, is clearly proved by the constancy of Israel's using those measures (although others might be assigned as the Greek or Roman measures, to serve the same ends) from the time of Moses, and probably before, to the captivity and after. And this, notwithstanding they were used by the Egyptians and Canaanites, which altered not their nature in the least. And this instance proves undeniably that such indifferent practices, as the use of the measures, may be highly useful to the greatest moral duties, the public honour of God, and the preservation of justice among them.

The church of England has at no period produced so many great divines as during that to which our attention is at present directed. Barrow, Tillotson, Stillingfleet, Sherlock, and South, who flourished during this era, were not only eminent preachers in their day, but have since continued to stand in the very first rank of excellence as writers on theology.

DR ISAAC BARROW.

DR ISAAC BARROW, the son of a linen-draper of London, was born in 1630, and at school was more remarkable for a love of fighting than for attention to his books. He studied at Cambridge for the church; but perceiving, at the time of the commonwealth, that the ascendency of theological and political opinions different from his own gave him little chance of preferment, he turned his views to the medical profession, and engaged in the study of anatomy, botany, and chemistry. After some time, however, he resumed his theological pursuits, devoting also much attention to mathematics and astronomy. In 1655, having been disappointed in his hopes of obtaining the Greek professorship at Cambridge, he went abroad for several years, during which he visited France, Italy, Smyrna, Constantinople, Germany, and Holland. At the Turkish capital, where he spent twelve months, he studied with great delight the works of St Chrysostom, which were composed in that city. Barrow returned to England in 1659, and in the following year obtained, without opposition, the professorship for which he had formerly been a candidate; to which appointment was added, in 1662, that of professor of geometry in Gresham college, London. Both these he resigned in 1663, on becoming Lucasian professor of mathematics in Cambridge university. After filling the last of these offices with great ability for six years, towards the end of which he published a

[merged small][graphic]

Dr Isaac Barrow.

was subsequently appointed one of the royal chap lains; and in 1672 was nominated to the mastership of Trinity college by the king, who observed on the occasion, that he had bestowed it on the best scholar in England.' To complete his honours, he was, in 1675, chosen vice-chancellor of the university; but this final appointment he survived only two years, having been cut off by fever in 1677, at the age of forty-six. Dr Barrow was distinguished by scrupulous integrity of character, with great candour, modesty, disinterestedness, and mental serenity. His manners and external aspect were more those of a student than of a man of the world; and he took no pains to improve his looks by attention to dress. On an occasion when he preached before a London audience who did not know him, his appearance on mounting the pulpit made so unfavourable an impression, that nearly the whole congregation immediately left the church. He never was married.

Of his powers and attainments as a mathematician (in which capacity he is accounted inferior to Sir Isaac Newton alone), Barrow has left evidence in a variety of treatises, nearly all of which are in the Latin tongue. It is, however, by his theological | works that he is more generally known to the public. These, consisting of sermons-expositions of the Creed, the Lord's prayer, the Decalogue, and the Doctrine of the Sacraments-and treatises on the pope's supremacy and the unity of the church-were published in three folio volumes a few years after his death. His sermons continue in high estimation for depth and copiousness of thought, and nervous though unpolished eloquence. As a writer,' says Mr Stewart, he is equally distinguished by the redundancy of his matter, and by the pregnant brevity of his expression; but what more peculiarly charac terises his manner, is a certain air of powerful and of conscious facility in the execution of whatever he undertakes. Whether the subject be mathematical i metaphysical, or theological, he seems always tc bring to it a mind which feels itself superior to the occasion; and which, in contending with the greatest difficulties, "puts forth but half its strength."

He

p. 45.

*First Preliminary Dissertation to Encyclopædia Britannics

composed with such care, that in general it was not till he had transcribed his sermons three or four times, that their language satisfied him. The length of his discourses was unusually great, seldom less than an hour and a-half being occupied in the delivery. It is recorded, that having occasion to preach a charity sermon before the lord mayor and aldermen of London, he spoke for three hours and ahalf; and that when asked, on coming down from the pulpit, whether he was not tired, he replied, Yes, indeed, I began to be weary with standing so long. The influence of the intellectual fertility which this anecdote strikingly illustrates, is seen in the composition of his sermons; for the copiousness of his thoughts seems to overpower him in giving them expression, and in this way is apt to render his sentences parenthetical and involved. Barrow's style is less poetical than that of Jeremy Taylor.

[The Excellency of the Christian Religion.]

* Another peculiar excellency of our religion is, that it prescribes an accurate rule of life, most agreeable to reason and to our nature, most conducive to our welfare and content, tending to procure each man's private good, and to promote the public benefit of all, by the strict observance whereof we bring our human nature to a resemblance of the divine; and we shall also thereby obtain God's favour, oblige and benefit men, and procure to ourselves the conveniences of a sober life, and the pleasure of a good conscience. For if we examine the precepts which respect our duty to God, what can be more just, pleasant, or beneficial to us, than are those duties of piety which our religion enjoins? What is more fit and reasonable, than that we should most highly esteem and honour him, who is most excellent? that we should bear the sincerest affection for him, who is perfect goodness himself, and most beneficial to us? that we should have the most awful dread of him, that is infinitely powerful, holy, and just that we should be very grateful to him, from whom we received our being, with all the comforts and conveniences of it? that we should entirely trust and hope in him, who can and will do whatever we may in reason expect from his goodness, nor can he ever fail to perform his promises that we should render all due obedience to him, whose children, servants, and subjects we are? Can there be a higher privilege than to have liberty of access to him, who will favourably hear, and is fully able to supply our wants? Can we desire to receive benefits on easier terms than the asking for them? Can a more gentle satisfaction for our offences be required than confessing of them, repentance, and strong resolutions to amend them? The practice of such a piety, of a service so reasonable, cannot but be of vast advantage to us, as it procures peace of conscience, a comfortable hope, a freedom from all terrors and scruples of mind, from all tormenting cares and anxieties.

And if we consider the precepts by which our religion regulates our carriage and behaviour towards our neighbours and brethren, what can be imagined so good and useful as those which the gospel affords? It enjoins us sincerely and tenderly to love one another; earnestly to desire and delight in each other's good; heartily to sympathise with all the evils and sorrows of our brethren, readily affording them all the help and comfort we are able; willingly to part with our substance, ease, and pleasure, for their benefit and relief; not confining this our charity to particular friends and relations, but, in conformity to the boundless goodness of Almighty God, extending it to all. It requires us mutually to bear with one another's infirmities, mildly to resent and freely remit all injuries; retaining no grudge, nor executing no revenge, but requiting our enemies with good wishes and good

deeds. It commands us to be quiet in our stations diligent in our callings, true in our words, upright in our dealings, observant of our relations, obedient and respectful to our superiors, meek and gentle to our inferiors, modest and lowly, ingenuous and condescending in our conversation, candid in our censures, and innocent, inoffensive, and obliging in our behaviour towards all persons. It enjoins us to root out of our hearts all envy and malice, all pride and haughtiness; to restrain our tongues from all slander, detraction, reviling, bitter and harsh language; not to injure, hurt, or needlessly trouble our neighbour. It engages us to prefer the public good before our own opinion, humour, advantage, or convenience. And would men observe and practise what this excellent doctrine teaches, how sociable, secure, and pleasant a life we might lead! what a paradise would this world then become, in comparison to what it now is?

If we further survey the laws and directions of our religion, with regard to the management of our souls and bodies, we shall also find that nothing could be devised more worthy of us, more agreeable to reason, or more productive of our welfare. It obliges us to preserve unto our reason its natural prerogative and due empire; not to suffer the brutish part to usurp and domineer over us; not to be enslaved to bodily temper, or deluded by vain fancy, to commit that which is unworthy of, or mischievous to us. It enjoins us to have sober and moderate thoughts concerning ourselves, suitable to our total dependence on God, to our natural meanness, weakness, and sinful inclinations; and that we should not be puffed up with selfconceit, or vain confidence in our wealth, honour, and prosperity. It directs us to compose our minds into a calm, serene, and cheerful state; that we should not easily be moved with anger, distracted with care of trouble, nor disturbed with any accident; but that we should learn to be content in every condition, and patiently bear all events that may happen to us. It commands us to restrain our appetites, to be temperate in our enjoyments; to abstain from all irregular pleasures which may corrupt our minds, impair our health, lessen our estate, stain our good name, or prejudice our repose. It doth not prohibit us the use of any creature that is innocent, convenient, or delightful; but indulgeth us a prudent and sober use of them, so as we are thankful to God, whose goodness bestows them. It orders us to sequester our minds from the fading glories, unstable possessions, and vanishing delights of this world; things which are unworthy the attention and affection of an immortal spirit; and that we should fix our thoughts, desires, and endeavours on heavenly and spiritual objects, which are infinitely pure, stable, and durable; not to love the world and the things therein, but to cast all our care on God's providence; not to trust in uncertain riches, but to have our treasure, our heart, hope, and conversation in heaven. And as our religion delivers a most excellent and perfect rule of life, so it chiefly requires from us a rational and spiritual service. The ritual observances it enjoins are in number few, in nature easy to perform, also very reasonable, decent, and useful; apt to instruct us in, and excite us to the practice of our duty. And our religion hath this farther peculiar advantage, that it sets before us a living copy of good practice. Example yields the most compendious instruction, the most efficacious incitement to action; and never was there any example so perfect in itself, so fit for our imitation, as that of our blessed Saviour; intended by him to conduct us through all the parts of duty, especially in those most high and difficult ones, that of charity, self-denial, humility, and patience. His practice was suited to all degrees and capacities of men, and so tempered, that persons of all callings might easily follow him in the paths of righteousness, in the performance of all substantial duties towards

« PreviousContinue »