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INTRODUCTION.

THE first part of this Essay treats of subjects of which all mankind have some notion, but a notion, usually too confused and indeterminate for philosophical use: I have therefore laboured to explore and arrange them under determinate language. The first disquisition, namely, on Power, belongs to that species of philosophy which is called Metaphysics, or first Philosophy; and which consists in affixing specific names to our abstract notions, or elements of common knowledge. What is metaphysics but the bringing common sense under determinate terms, as expedient to communicating and receiving knowledge? The second disquisition, that on human preference, belongs to the philosophy of man. As advances in these branches of knowledge are deservedly. esteemed by the ingenious, so advances in either which tend to illustrate the union of natural and revealed Religion, and to harmonize our conceptions of the sacred writings, will be accounted a valuable acquisition, by all whe

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who receive and esteem divine testimony; because, natural and revealed religion proceed from the same divine origin; appeal to the same distinguishing properties of human nature; and have the same general ends of tendency, namely, bettering its subject, felicitating society, and glorifying God. Religious truths whether naturally acquired, or supernaturally revealed, are addressed to the common sense and moral sense of man.

Divine Testimony cannot go counter to intelligence, or truly oppose itself to the other mediums of evident knowledge; for, every valuable medium of acquaintance with truth proceeds from the same fountain of light and of love. That cannot be revealed truth which opposes the objects of Intuition, which are, if I may so express it, the essential foundation of all our other knowledge: nor can that be revelation which opposes our reasonings, right reasonings, modestly confined to their own sphere: yet revelation rises above all other mediums of knowledge in various respects, and it is its glory. Consistently herewith, right reason having advocated the cause of revealed religion, becomes herself its disciple.

Christianity is the Religion taught and enforced by our Lord Jesus Christ, the Evangelists, and his apostles: in another view, it is the present constitution of the divine suasive government of mankind: in both views, I conceive it to be a common benefit, and equally interesting to every person who is favoured with its manifestation: consequently, that laudable, truly laudable, are the efforts of philanthropic Christians, to conduct within the reach

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of all mankind that running stream, which our common parent has given for common reception and consolation.

To manifest the consonance of the doctrines of the Scriptures with the evident doctrines of natural religion is of unquestionable importance; and to harmonize our conceptions of the doctrines of Christianity with themselves, and with the evident doctrines of natural religion, as addressed to the moral sense and common sense of human persons, seems a grand object of the Philosophy of Christianity. The divine ruling of human persons with Justice, Wisdom, and Philanthropy, as manifest in the acknowledged Revelations of God, and deductions of reason from our constitution and relations, is the general subject before us.

One great doctrine of natural religion is, the EQUALITY of every descendant of Adam in its natural state, in respect of the DIVINE AFFECTION and GOODNESS. Or, that divine benevolence is equal to all human persons, notwithstanding the gifts of beneficence, as shared by them, do so remarkably differ in kind and degree.

Another great doctrine of natural religion is, MAN IS UNLIMITEDLY DEPENDENT ON GOD, who is our maker, preserver, and ruler; and for this reason, the DEVOTION OF MAN TO GOD SHOULD BE UNLIMITED DEVOTION.

The doctrine of the equality of all men, as men, in the estimation of GOD; or, in other words, the doctrine of Divine Justice towards all men, as exercised in their plan, their making, their disposal, their sustenance, and God's whole

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suasive government, I consider also to be a doctrine of natural religion of the first magnitude. Another great doctrine of natural religion, in my estimation, is, that the privileges of all men in respect of futurity, are equal, who are of equal character, and in equivalent circum

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And, another great doctrine of natural religion is, that the duty of all men is the same, in respect of personal religion, who are of equal attainments, and in equivalent circum

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These five doctrines of natural religion, I consider as doctrines of indubitable evidence and authority: hence can receive no position, as divine revelation, which runs counter to them. As the scriptures of the Old and New Testament do hold up and enforce every other doctrine of natural religion within my knowledge, so I think these sacred writings do fully inculcate and enforce these doctrines. The Lord Jesus Christ affirmed, that to love God with all our strength, is the first great precept of the Divine Law:* and the apostle Paul by an erotesis, affirmed that God maketh a Christian to differ from another man, and that he hath nothing which he did not receive.t In several places it is asserted, and I doubt not unequivocally, that Gon is not a respecter of persons; so also the numerous ascriptions of wisdom, justice, and goodness unto God, respecting his plan, making, disposing of, preserv

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