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succeed one another without interruption. The earth supplies him with food, and rewards his toil with a liberal increase. His eyes have an ample range through the universe, and, with the rapidity of his thoughts, compensate for the confined situation of his body. His wants are all supplied by moderate labor, his pains and sorrows are alleviated by innumerable indulgences, and all his powers are gratified by the contemplation of nature's inexhaustible sources of beauty and delight. What has he then to do but to gladden his toil with hymns of praise to his Maker, and to kindle his soul with the flame of philosophical devotion ?-But oh ! as the skipping lamb is seized by the prowling wolf, so death, inexorable death, rudely breaks in upon all his comforts, and blasts his hopes by a single stroke !
2. In the social world, if a man have the happinoss to descend from virtuous parents, and to form virtuous connexions, his comforts are of a very endearing nature; though not without sueh a mixture of evils as forbids immoderate sorrow for the loss of friends and children. He is caressed in the bosom of his family with the fondest affection, and surrounded with the endearing relatives of father-mother-brother-sistér-tutor and friend. His happiness is made the growing object of his parents' hope. Surely then he ought to obey their wise and just commands, and to reverence and cherish their hoars age. In the world at large, he sees some providi u, and others raiment, for the public : he sees oma s traversing the seas, and by the imports and exports of useful and luxurious comforts, connecting the whole world as one great empire. In private life, his repose and property are protected by equitable laws, and those laws enforced by a gradation of magistracy from the prince to the people. This view of society should instruct him to regard every man as a brother, friend, or patriot. It should dispose him to conform to the laws; obey the magistrates; and honor his sovereign, as the most sapred person, in whose happiness is involved the hap
of all his subjects.
3. From this flattering sketch of social life, we procced to the moral world, in which the sad reverse of things is generally presented to our view. Those virtues which should be the brightest ornaments of human nature, are so contaminated with selfishness, and the prevalence of deceit or open fraud, that the dearest friends and relatives are afraid to trust one another. The strong propensities of mankind to intemperance and sensual indulgence; their fondness of the resoris of vanity, and, we may frequently add, the haunts of infamy, are productive of fatal consequences to personal and domestic happiness. Oaths and honor are violated, and characters indelibly stained in the seduction of unprotected innocence; nor can it be said, that a ruined woman has any adequate mcans of redress. Among the great nations in which the glory of empire is a prevailing principle, trivial infringements of treaties, or violations of the laws of commerce, are embraced with avidity to occasion destructive wars. Peaceable provinces are half depopulated and ruined ; and seldom does the contest cease, till the flower of their youth is cut off, and till their resources are exhausted. O what pride, rage, and revenge, is in the heart of man! O what carnage, what devastation, and what impurities, have ensued on the taking of great cities ! Such are the dispositions of bad men, when, for the moment, their lawless passions are without a rein.
Great God! are these indeed thy creatures ? Hast thou formed them with hearts like these ? Have they learned of thee, whose tender mercies are over all thy works, to destroy one another ? Couldst thou, who hast blessed all thy creatures, teach them to blaspheme? O no! these evils have befallen them since their creation. They have shaken off the restraints of thy law, set thy judgments at defiance, and perverted liberty to their own destruction.
IV. Hence it follows, that there is a distinguished difference between good and evil, right and wrong, vice and virtue. God having made man to live, it
must be wrong to kill him, especially while young, when he may have the greatest domestic or national services to achieve. But the crime is not merely an injury to an individual and to society, it is an invasion of the Creator's right to dispose of his creature. This principle strongly applies to belligerent nations : for the causes of war bear no proportion to the consequences. And if the features of good and evil be so conspicuous in the great actions of society, they may be traced with equal precision in all the economy of private life: in honesty and fraud; in kindness and injury; in truth aud falsehood; in blessing and cursing. Nature, which is kind and indulgent to all, admonishes us to imitate her example; and if it be virtuous to imitate the divine beneficence, and to conform the heart to his will, it must be vicious to deviate from the model of perfect goodness.
V. We may further remark, that vice is generally attended with some degree of appropriate punishment. Whenever we sin against God, against our neighbor, or against ourselves, we must on the slightest reflection be covered with shame, and stung with remorse. By wicked and ungenerous actions, tre forfeit our moral character, and lose the esteem of good men. Profligacy is productive of wretchedness; and intemperance will superinduce disease. The laws of nature diare replete with rectitude and truth; but we hate the light, being full of meanness and misery. Hence, when bad men have proceeded so far in a course of impiety, as to pervert all their powers, and fill up the meaşure of their iniquity, it becomes requisite for the rightcous God to cut them off, and hide them in the shades of death.
It is granted, that wicked men often live to a great age, and retain their vices to the last; consequently, that the chastisements of providence are very mysterious : : yet we can frequently discover a striking correspondence between the sins and punishments of some men in this life. And though these punishments,
nost, are but partial, yet we may fairly presume from the equity of God, that they will be completed in the future state. If the soul were wicked when embodied, it is wicked when disembodied. Length of time does not diminish the magnitude of an offence, and duration of punishment does not moralize the hearts of the impenitent. The aged, on a review of their early vices, which have not been followed by the proper fruits of repentance, find the same sensations as they found when those sins were first committed. Hence, if a man's conscience make him unhappy on his downy pillow, and in his own neighborhood, it will make him unhappy when he removes to another country; yea, when he makes his exit to another world. Local changes can neither conceal him from his Maker, nor obliterate the recollection of his crimes. Consequently, how we may now be saved from sin, and ensure a blissful immortality, are our grand and indispensable inquiries. The common affairs of life are merely trifles when compared with these important duties.
VI. The doctrines of expiation, and virtue, have been largely discussed by pagan and skeptical writers, through a long succession of ages, and always in a way confused and undefined. With regard to expiation, some have enjoined penance, ablution, and liberality to the poor. But how can the washing or mortifying the flesh take away sins which defile the mind ? How can liberality to the poor atone for crimes committed against our Maker? or, if it could, what is the bulk of mankind to do, who have nothing to give? Some, convinced of the inefficacy of these means, have extolled the divine clemency, and assured us, that he will forgive the frailties of his offending creatures, if we ask him with sincere repentance. This is indeed a consoling doctrine, and we should cheerfully embrace it, did it not leave the divine government insecure, by allowing the creatures to offend with impunity. God will never exercise his mercy but in harmony with his justice; nor dare we presume upon a system of unqualified mercy, because it is contrary to providence, which reveals the awful judgments of God, and punishes mankind with death.
In addition to this system of pure mercy, a system of morality, approaching as near to perfection as pos. sible, is also recommended. We are promised happiness, provided we moderate our desires according to our enjoyments, and our expenses according to income, exercising benevolence towards our fellowcreatures. But in what book is this perfect standard of morals laid down? The master and the servant, the economist and the prodigal, the prince and the people, biassed by situation, must ever produce systems discordant and incomplete. The Socinian, finding his favorite fort of pure mercy untenable, at length takes refuge in the scheme of philosophical necessity; which is much the same as the pagan doctrine of fate. Yes, after some hesitation, he swallows the opiate, “Whatever is, is right.” Happy way of solving difficulties, and exonerating his conscience, by charging all his crimes upon his Maker !!!
VII. On all the preceding subjects, it must be confessed, that the religion of nature is extremely defective. It demonstrates the existence of sin, and the certainty of its punishment. But affords no positive assurance of pardon. It affords every presumptive proof of a future state, but does not say what that state shall be. It demonstrates the being and perfections of God, and our obligations to worship him, but does not say whether he will receive the worship of sinful men. It prescribes a system of pure morality, to which the human heart is unable to conforn:.
It requires persect love, and periect obedience to God : and te presume that he will accept of imperfect services, is comparing the Deity to a tradesman, who asks one price for his goods, and takes another. Here human moralists have all lost their way; for they still consider man as in his state of original excellence, and they are unable to account for his present meanness and misery, They are all dissatisfied with their own conclusions. They change opinions on the accession of every lu..