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and moral) may be denominated, good, evil, or indifferent; yet that will not be an immediate foundation for religion. But in the fame fect. prop. 10. it is faid, If there be moral good and evil diftinguished as before (viz. by the rule of truth, there laid down) there is religion, and fuch as may moft properly be ftiled natural; by religion (fays he) I mean nothing elfe but an obligation to do (under which word, fays he, I comprehend acts both of body and mind, 1 fay to do) what ought not to be omitted, and to forbear what ought not to be done.
If there be moral good and evil in refpect to a divine conftitution, there must be religion. But a denomination of moral good and evil upon fome remote account, antecedent to and independent on the divine exiftence, will not presently infer religion. It is not every fort of obligation, but a divine one, that argues religion. It is ufual with natural religionifts to fuppofe this world exiftent in its prefent frame, antecedently to the notion of the divine existence. For from the confideration of the frame, order, and usefulness of the world, arguments are (justly) taken, to demonftrate the divine existence. From vifible things we arise to the proof of things invifible. Let us fuppofe then (as I think, our author does) mankind capable of fome acts, that may be called good, or evil, or indifferent, antecedenly to the confideration of the existence of GOD. In this ftate, either fome moral rule may be affigned to human actions (according to which they may be denominated good, evil, or indifferent) or there may not. If, in this ftate and fi
tuation of human nature, no fuch moral rule can be affigned to human actions; then our author's rule of truth (congruity of action to matters of fact, and true propofitions) cannot be established, (and confequently, not religion) antecedently to the confideration of a divine exiftence. If a moral rule for human action may be afferted, antecedently to the confideration of fuch exiftence (as, I fuppofe, our author would fay, that, in fuch a state it would be naturally immoral, or rationally evil, to be always lying one to another, or always murdering one the other) then.... there may be a phyfical, (if you will call it fo) a natural, or rational morality, and yet not a natural religion. Since religion relates to, and depends on, the existence of a divine majefty.
The learned author allows, that there is (belonging to rational animals) the law of fenfe or fenfitive... nature; in refpect to which he fays, fect. 3. prop. 1 5. p. 55. In this cafe, to act according to them i. e. as taking the informations of fenfe to be true) is to act according to reafon, and the great law of our nature. Then there is the law of immediate reafon; of which he fays, fect. 3. prop. 11. p. 51. To be governed by reafon, is the general law, impofed by the author of nature, upon them, whofe uppermost faculty is reafon; as the dictates of it, in particular cafes, are the particular laws, to which they are fubject. Here is a fuppofition of an author of nature, and a law imposed by him, before we are come to the proof of his exiftence. But human nature, as now it appears to be constituted, may be confidered as in a state pre
vious to the notion of fuch a fupreme author. this previous confideration of human nature, man has thefe laws of fenfe and reafon, to be governed (or guided) by; (though in this ftate of confideration, thofe laws (as they are called) are not reckoned as the impofitions of a fupreme Author of Nature ; fuch a fupreme Author being not yet fupposed to exift). In this imagined state of human nature, there may be many rational (or moral) inducements (which fome would call obligations) to obferve the laws of fenfe and reafon. There would be the good (the happiness, fuch as it would be) of the individuals themfelves, the welfare of fociety, the dignity of the human nature, and other motives. Now, in this cafe, the wilful violation of the laws of fenfe and reason, has fome natural abfurdity, fome irrational, and immoral evil in it, or it has not. If not, then the tranfgreffion of the law of fenfe (which is faid to be the law of reason and of nature) will have no natural abfurdity in it. The tranfgreffion of the law of reafon, will not be irrational ; or if it be (and attended with never fo many ill circumftances) it will not be moral (or immoral) evil. If a man run his head into the fire, or murder his parents and children, there will be no irrational and immoral evil in it. And fo there will be no moral rule, no diftinction of moral good and evil, (and confequently, no religion) antecedent to, or abstracted from, the confideration of the divine existence. And fo our author (according to due method) fhould have begun with his demonstration of that existence. But if (antecedently to the confideration thereof) there may be a moral rule in human nature, and
and a distinction of rational (and, in that sense, moral) good and evil; then fuch a distinction (we fee) there may be, without the immediate confequence of religion. That does not enfue, but upon fuppofition of the divine existence. There are (or have been) philofophers, who would allow the Being of a GOD, without inferring religion from thence. But fure, none would advance fuch a thing as religion, without the fuppofition of a divine Being. Twill be a ftrange fuppofition, that an Atheist may be a religious man. But if the learned Author meant no more, than that there may be a notion of moral good and evil, antecedently to the confideration of the divine existence ; that that notion is fubfervient to the demonstration of fuch a Being; and confequently, that it is a remote foundation for religion, (if he meant thus) I would fay no more.
III. Since the learned Author has fo far (as he has) paved the way to the revealed religion, he had oblig'd the chriftian world, had he (by his great rational light) led the heathen philofopher (whom we are to fuppofe speaking in him) a little nearer to it. Human nature must have its religion (i. e. in the obligation of it). But there is the religion of innocent, and of guilty nature. Had these two been a little more distinguished, and had the philofopher (affisted by fuperior reason) delineated to us the religion of innocent nature, we might have been inftructed thereby. We might have been rationally informed, what human nature may be fuppos'd to be when immediately made by GOD; what law was given to it then; b what
what was the state of religion, then enacted; and how it may be most rationally fuppos'd, that human nature fell from its original (fuppos'd) rectitude, into the present impurity and guilt.
That human nature is now abundantly vitiated, the philofopher will fufficiently certify us, when he says (p. 207) There is one thing more of which notice ought to be taken. To one, who carefully peruses the story (old or modern) and face of the world, what appears to prevail in it? Is it not corruption, vice, iniquity, folly at leaft? Are not debauching, getting per fas aut nefas, defaming one another, erecting tyrannies of one kind or other, propagating empty and fenfelefs opinions (yea, wicked and pernicious doctrines) with bawling and fury (even to fire, faggot, and fword) the great business of the world? and are not all thefe contrary to reafon? What depravation then is here of the rational race? Man is become the object of fatyr, to thofe of his own nature. His powers are fo vitiated, that wit and reafon raife him to a more elevated impiety. The good (if any are made fo by much culture, long inftruction and counsel, by much discipline, ftrange providences, and fudden influences as our Author fpeaks of, p. 106.) are fadly defective; and complain of a law of corruption within, that wars against their fuperior fenfe and mind. The children of the good foon degenerate, and shake off all the good impreffions of example, advice, and education. Ill men confefs that there is a bad propenfion within, that fights againft their conviction and confcience. The old Heathens could fay, Nitimur in vetitum. The old Hebrew hiftorian declares, that GOD