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And what must, in all probability, be the consequences of such conduct with regard to the public? There are great complaints of a dissoluteness of manners, which seems to be growing among us. In this, the interests of the community are very deeply concerned. When once corruption spreads through society, it must necessarily be attended with a perversion of all order, and sap the very foundation of the general glory and happiness. For, in proportion as vice prevails, it produces a neglect of honest industry; trade consequently decays, fraud and violence increase, the reverence of oaths is lost, and all the ties which bind mankind together are in danger of being dissolved. Machiavel himself has decided, that “ a free government cannot be long maintained, when once a people are become generally corrupt. Every true friend, therefore, of public order and liberty must wish that the vicious appetites and passions of mankind may be kept under proper controul. And nothing so well answers this end as religion. Without its influence, indeed, civil laws would be found feeble restraints: nor was there ever any civilized government, which did not adopt religion for its support. Now, it may easily be proved, that



* Lord Bolingbroke observes, that "the good effects of maintaining, and the bad effects of neglecting religion, were extremely visible in the whole course of the Roman government-That though the Roman religion established by Numa was very absurd, yet, by keeping up an awe of superior power, and the belief of a Providence ordering the course of events, it produced all the marvellous effects which Machiavel (after Polybius, Cicero, and Plutarch) ascribes to it. " And he adds, that "the neglect of religion was a principal cause of the evils which Rome afterward suffered. Religion decayed, and the state decayed

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no religion is so well fitted for answering all these purposes as the Christian. Mr Hume himself, speaking of the received notion, that "the Deity will inflict punishments on vice, and bestow rewards on virtue," says, that "those who attempt to disabuse men of such prejudices, may for aught be knows be good reasoners, but he cannot allow them to be good citizens and politicians; since they free men from one restraint upon their passions, and make the infringement of the laws of equity and society in one respect more easy and secure. And Bolingbroke, in his remarks on those who "contrived religion for the sake of government, observes, that "they saw the public external religion would not answer their end, nor enforce effectually the obligations of virtue and morality, without the doctrine of future rewards and punishments." That doctrine, he adds, "has so great a tendency to enforce the civil laws, and restrain the vices of men, that reason, which (as he pretends) cannot decide for it on principles of natural theology, will not decide against it on principles of good policy." Nay, he even goes so far as to say, that "if the conflict between virtue and vice, in the great commonwealth of mankind, was

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with her." If, then, even a false religion, by "keeping up an awe of superior power, and the belief of a Provi dence," had so advantageous an influence on the prosperity of the state, and the "neglect of religion" brought such evils upon it; can these writers possibly be regarded as true friends to the public, who take so much pains to subvert a religion established upon the most solid foundations, and to set men loose from "the awe of superior power, and the belief of a Providence ordering the course of events," and whose obvious object and endeavour is to leave us without any religion at all?

not regulated by religious and civil institutions, human life would be intolerable.

What real good to mankind, therefore, I may justly ask, can the Deist propose, by endeavouring to degrade the ministry and the ordinances of Christianity, to subvert its divine authority, and thus to destroy its influence on the consciences of mankind? Can he hope to benefit the cause of virtue, by taking away those motives which most forcibly engage men to the practice of it? Or can he imagine that he shall best check licentiousness, by removing its most powerful restraints? If it be difficult to control human corruption, even with all the aids which religion supplies, what might be expected, if men were left to gratify their passions without any such aid at all? Surely, then, however unfavourable to Christianity the private sentiments of the Deist may be, he ought, for the sake of the public, to conceal them, if he would approve himself a true lover of his country; and not, on the contrary, take pains to propagate principles, which in their consequences must have the worst influence on its comfort and welfare. If what Lord Bolingbroke asserts is true, that " no religion ever appeared in the world, whose natural tendency was so much directed to promote the peace and happiness of mankind as the Christian religion, considered as taught by Christ and his Apostles;" with what consistency can that man pretend to a concern for the general happiness, who uses his utmost efforts to subvert it, by representing its most important motives to virtue as idle bugbears?

Let me now address myself to those, who profess to value themselves upon the name of Christ

ians—a name expressive of the most sacred obligations, the most valuable privileges, and the most sublime hopes. But of little advantage will be the name, without the true spirit and practice, of Christianity. And it is impossible for any friend of mankind to observe without grief, what numbers there are who would take it ill not to be accounted Christians, that yet seem little disposed to act suitably to that glorious character.

Many nominal Christians, indeed, scarcely ever bestow a serious thought upon those things, which it is the great design of the Gospel to inculcate. How inconsistent is this conduct? To profess to believe that God has sent his Son from Heaven with disclosures of the highest interest, in which our everlasting salvation is at stake, and yet to discard these things from their thoughts, and to prefer the veriest trifles before them! Surely no pretence of worldly business, though it is our duty to be diligent in it, can justify such a flagrant neglect. Much less will a hurry of diversions be admitted as a sufficient excuse. And yet how many are there, whose time is taken up in petty amusements, and who make what, at any rate, should only be the entertainment of a vacant hour the occupation of their lives! It is to be lamented, that this is too often the case with persons distinguished by their birth, fortunes, and figure in the world. But can reasonable creatures persuade themselves, that by such a trifling away of their time they answer the end, for which the noble powers of reason were bestowed upon them? Much less can Christians believe, that they were formed for no higher purposes. How often are

the duties of the church and the closet, those of the social relations, the care of children and of families, and kind offices towards the indigent and the afflicted, postponed for the sake of low indulgences; an immoderate pursuit of which tends, even when it is least hurtful, to produce a disinclination to serious thought, and to impair the relish for every thing truly excellent and improving!

But too often, alas! what are called diversions' lay snares for innocence, and open the way to scenes of dissoluteness and debauchery! Too often what is termed 'play' is carried to such an excess as to squander fortunes, which might be employed to the most valuable purposes! To which may be added, its natural tendency to excite unworthy passions, and to produce the habits of fraud and falsehood and an illiberal thirst of gain.

Without actual observation one would scarcely think there could be persons, who profess to acknowledge the divine authority of the Gospel, and yet live in an habitual neglect of its public worship. There never was, assuredly, an institution more wisely calculated for advancing the interests of virtue, than that of setting apart one day in a week for the express purpose of instructing the people in the knowledge of their duty, and exhorting them to the practice of it; and yet many, who still however call themselves Christians, seem to affect an open disregard or even contempt of it. But it is not easy to conceive, what reasonable pretence can be alleged for such a conduct. Will they aver, that they deem it a reflection upon their sense, to pay their public homage to their Creator and Redeemer; and to make an open profession

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