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maintains a purity and regularity of manners amidst the most specious allurements of a tempting world; this forms a character which derives a glory to the greatest monarch, far superior to all the splendours of royal magnificence.

It is a thing which cannot reasonably be denied, that religion, rightly understood and practised, strengthens the sacred ties between sovereigns and their subjects. It tends to render kings just and equal in their administrations, the fathers of their people, and the guardians of their liberties; and to render the people loyal and obedient, ready with the greatest fidelity and chearfulness to yield all due subjection and allegiance; and at the same time it has a manifest tendency to spread good order and harmony, and to promote the practice of those virtues which have the greatest influence on public as well as private happiness.

That this may be the blessing of your Majesty, and these nations—that wisdom and righteousness may be the stability of your throne, and that your Majesty may long reign in the hearts of a happy and united people—that the knowledge and practice of true vital Christianity may flourish under your auspicious government and that these nations may continue in the possession and due improvement of their civil and religious privi. leges, under Princes of your Majesty's illustrious line to the latest generations ; is the ardent prayer of all your Majesty's faithful subjects, and, in a particular manner, of,

May it please your Majesty,
Your Majesty's most dutiful, most obedient,
and most devoted Subject and Servant,

JOHN LELAND. Dublin, 25th Dec. 1763.

PREFACE.

As I am fully persuaded that the Christian Revelation, considering the excellency of its doctrines, the purity of its precepts, and the power of those motives whereby the practice of them is enforced, and especially its exceeding great and precious promises, and the glorious and sublime hopes which good men are thereby raised unto, is one of the choicest gifts of heaven to mankind, so I think no man can be better employed than in endeavouring to display its advantages to the world, and defend it against the opposition of gainsayers. This is what I have honestly intended in several books formerly published on that subject ;* and which, I trust, have not been altogether without their use. It was however neither my intention nor inclination, considering my years and growing infirmities, to engage any farther in this kind of service. But some persons,t to whose judgment and authority I owe great deference, urged me sometime ago to review the books I had written, and out of them to form a treatise in which the arguments in favour of Revelation might be digested into a regular series, and considered both separately and in their joint connection and harmony, together with a refutation of the principal objections. And that to make this the easier I might freely make use of my own sentiments and expressions formerly published, and transcribe them into this new work. Some progress was made in this design, but after a while it was laid aside. For I could not satisfy myself to put a work upon the public,

* Against Morgan, Tindal, Christianity not founded on Argument, &c. &c.

+ Late Lord Bishop of London Dr. Sherlock; Dr. Wilson, Prebendary of Westminister; and others.

which should be little more than an extract or abridgment of what I had before published, though in another form. As this however occasioned my turning my thoughts again to the controversy between the Christians and Deists, it gave rise to the following treatise. I found, upon considering this subject, that the ablest of those who have attempted to maintain the deistical cause in a way of reason and argument (for I do not speak of those who have contented themselves with some ill-placed jest and ridicule, and with repeating stale and trifling objections which have been frequently answered and exposed) have placed their chief strength in asserting the absolute sufficiency of natural reason, left merely to its own force, without any higher assistance, to answer all the purposes of religion and happiness. They maintain that even the bulk of mankind need no other or better guide ; and particularly, that the common reason implanted in all men does of itself make the clearest discoveries of the unity, perfections, and attributes of God, of his providence and govern. ment of the world, of the whole of moral duty in its just extent, and of a future state of retributions : that these which are the main articles in which all religion principally consists, are naturally known to all mankind; so that an extraordinary Revelation from God is perfectly needless ; and therefore we may justly con. clude, that no such Revelation was ever given, since, in that case, it could answer no valuable end at all. This indeed would not follow. For if we should allow that those main articles of what is usually called Natural Religion, are what all men are able clearly to discern of themselves, by their own natural light, without instruction, yet since all that make proper reflections upon

their own state must be conscious that they have in many instances transgressed the law of God, and thereby exposed themselves to his just displeasure, they might still stand in great need of a Divine Revelation, to instruct them upon what terms he is willing to restore his offending creatures to his grace

and favour, and how far he will think fit to reward their sincere though imperfect obedience. In this view, a Revelation from God, declaring the methods of his wisdom and love for our recovery, and his gracious purposes towards penitent returning sinners, and publishing the glad tidings of pardon and salvation upon such terms as he seeth fit to appoint and require, would be an advantage we cannot be sufficiently thankful for. But if besides this, it can be made to appear, that mankind stand in great need of Divine Revelation to guide and instruct them aright, even in the main articles of what is usually called Natural Religion, the cause of deism, as far as it can be formed into a consistent system, exclusive of all Revelation, falls to the ground. I am very sensible that they who take upon them the character of Deists, are far from being agreed in those articles of religion, the clearness of which, when arguing against the necessity or useful. ness of Divine Revelation, they effect mightily to extol: and that there is too much reason to think, that one of the principal sources of those prejudices many of them have entertained against the Christian Revelation is its setting those principles, and their just and natural consequences, in too clear and strong a light. But since, the better to carry on their attacks against Revealed Religion, they put on an appearance of believing both the necessity and importance of those principles, and their being universally obvious to all mankind, even to them that never had the benefit of Divine Revelation; this led me to make an inquiry into the state of religion in the ancient heathen world, especially in those nations which are accounted to have been the most learned and civilized, and among whom there were many persons that made the highest pretensions to learning and philosophy. This inquiry cost me a laborious search. For though this subject has been treated of by others, and I have endeavoured to profit by their labours, yet I did not think proper to rely entirely upon them, but, as far as I was able, examined every thing myself; and where, in a few instances, I had not an opportunity of consulting the originals, but depended upon the quotations made by others, I have referred the reader to the authors from whom I took them.

The result of my inquiries is contained in the following work; in which I first propose to represent the state of religion in the Gentile world, with respect to that which lies at the foundation of all religion, the knowledge and worship of the one true God, in opposition to idolatry and polytheism. 2dly, To consider what notions they had of moral duty, taken in its just extent: a thing of the highest importance to mankind. 3dly, To take a view of the notions which obtained among them of a future state of rewards and punishments ; which is also a point of vast consequence to the cause of religion and virtue in the world. Under these

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several heads I do not pretend to argue from speculative hypotheses concerning the supposed powers of human nature; or to affirm that it is not possible for any man, by the mere force of his own reason, to attain to any rational persuasion of these things; but I proceed upon fact and experience, which will help us to form the truest judgment in this matter, and will show us what we are to expect from human reason, if left merely to its own unassisted force, in the present state of mankind. The enquiry is carried on to the time of our Saviour's coming, and the issue of my researches, as far as my own particular judgment and persuasion is concerned, has been to produce in me a full conviction of the great need mankind stood in of an extraordinary Divine Revelation, even with regard to those that are accounted the clearest as well as the most important articles of what is usually called Natural Religion; and to inspire me with the highest thankfulness to God for the Gospel Revelation, which has set these things in the most glorious light. This is what I have endeavoured to show; and if what I shall offer on those heads can be any way instrumental to excite the same sentiments and affections in others, and to heighten their esteem for the Christian Revelation as contained in the Holy Scriptures, and to make them more careful to improve it to the excellent purposes for which it was manifestly designed, I shall not grudge the pains I have taken, but shall count myself happier than any worldly advantages could make me.

This work has grown upon my hands much beyond my original intention. But when I was once engaged upon this subject, I was not willing to treat it in a slight and superficial manner; and yet several things are laid aside which I had prepared, and which would have enlarged it still more.

The materials of the first part were alone sufficient to fill a large volume ; and therefore I de. signed to publish it separately. But some judicious friends were of opinion, that it would be better to lay the whole before the public in one view. This I have ventured to do, voluminous as it is, and hope the importance of the subject, as well as the great extent of it, will be admitted as an apology. To the whole is fixed a Preliminary Discourse on Natural and Revealed Religion, which I believe will not be thought an improper Introduction to a work of this nature.

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