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THE

DIGNITY

O F

HUMAN NATURE.

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BOOK III.

OF VIRTUE.

INTRODUCTION.

Α

S the human species are to exift in two different states, an embodied, and a fpiritual; a mortal life on earth, and an immortal hereafter; it was to be expected, that there fhould be certain peculiar requifites for the dignity of each of the two different ftates respectively and that, at the fame time, there should be fuch an analogy between that part of the human existence, which was to be before death, and that which was to be after it, as fhould be fuitable to different parts of the fame fcheme; fo that the latter should appear to be the fequel of the former, making in the whole the complete exiftence of the creature, beginning with the enVOL. II.

B

trance

trance into this mortal life; but knowing no end.

In the two parts of the dignity of human nature, which we have already confidered, to wit, Prudence and Knowledge, it is evident, that the immediate view is to the improvement and embellishment of life, and for diffufing happiness through fociety; at the fame time that many, if not the greatest part, of the directions given for the conduct of life, and of the understanding, are likewife ufeful with a view to the future and immortal state. And indeed there is nothing truly worthy of our attention, which does not fome way ftand connected with futurity.

·

The two parts of the fubject, which still remain, I mean, of Morals, and Revealed religion, do: moft..immediately and directly tend to prepare us for a future ftate; but, at the fame time, are highly neceffary to be ftudied and attended to; if we mean to establish the happiness even of this prefent mortal life upon a fure and folid foundation. But every one of the four, and every confiderable particular in each of them, is abfolutely neceffary for raifing our nature to that perfection and happiness, for which it is intended.

The dignity of human nature will in the two following books appear more illuftrious than the preceding part of this work reprefents it. So that the fubject rifes in its importance, and demands a higher regard. Might the abilities of

the writer improve accordingly. Might the infinite Author of the univerfal oeconomy illuminate his mind, and fecond his weak attempt to exhibit in one view the whole of what mankind have to do, in order to their answering the ends which the Divine wisdom and goodness had in view in placing them in a state of discipline and improvement for endless perfection and happi

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To proceed upon a folid and ample foundation, in the following deduction of morals, it seems proper to take an extenfive prospect of things, and begin as high as poffible.

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First, it may be worth while briefly, and in a way as little abstract or logical as poffible, to obviate a few artificial difficulties, that have been started by fome of thofe deep and fubtle men, who have a better talent at puzzling than enlightning mankind. One of thofe imaginary difficulties is, The poffibility of our reafon's deceiving us. "Our reafon," say thofe profound gentlemen, "tells us, that twice two are four, But what if our reafon imposes upon us in "this matter? How, if in the world of the moon, two multiplied by two fhould be found to make "five? Who can affirm that this is not the cafe? Nothing indeed feems to us more unquestionable "than the proportions among numbers, and "geometrical figures. So that we cannot (such "is the make of our minds) fo much as con"ceive the poffibility that twice two should, in B 2

66 any

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any other world, or ftate of things, make "more or less than four, or that all the angles "of a plain triangle fhould be either more or

lefs than exactly equal to two right ones. But "it does not follow, that other beings may "not understand things in a quite different man"ner, from what we do."

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A

It is wonderful how any man fhould have hit upon fuch an unnatural thought as this; fince the very difficulty is founded upon a flat contradiction and impoffibility. To fay, I am convinced that twice two are four, and at the fame time to talk of doubting whether my faculties do not deceive me, is faying, that I believe twice two be four, and at the fame time I doubt it; or, rather that I fee it to be fo, and yet I do not fee it to be fo. A felf-evident truth is not collected, or deduced, but intuitively perceived, or feen by the mind. And other worlds, and other states of things, are wholly out of the queftion. The ideas in my mind are the objects of the perception of my mind, as much as outward objects, of my eyes. The idea of two of the lunar inhabitants, is as diftinct an object in my mind, fo far as concerns the number, as that of two fhillings in my hand. And I fee as clearly, that twice two lunar inhabitants will make four lunarians, as that twice two fhillings will make four fhillings. And while I fee this to be fo, I fee it to be so, and cannot fufpect it poffible to be otherwife. I may doubt the perceptions of another perfon, if I cannot

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