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his life ; but the intolerant doctrines of these reputed sages may continue to scatter misery and death through the world, long after their neglected tombs are mouldered into dust.




To ascertain the importance of doctrines in general, let us consider the influence they have upon our conduct. Our duties in life depend upon the different relations we sustain in it; and these relations affect us only as they are understood. Thus, it is necessary that a child should know his father before he can truly love him in that character. This knowledge is the effect of certain instructions or maxims, which influence our manners in proportion as they are assented to. I love the man from whom I have received my birth and education with a particular affection ; but such love is founded, first, upon this general doctrine, “Every child honourably born should reverence and love his father;" and, secondly, upon this particular truth, “ That man is thy father.” If I am made to doubt of this general doctrine, or of this particular truth, the moral springs of that respect, love, gratitude, and obedience which are due to my father will necessarily be weakened ; and if either the one or the other should lose all its influence over my heart, my father would then become to me as an indifferent person.

The knowledge, therefore, of the affinities which subsist between one being and another is essential to morality. Why is it that no traces of morality can be discovered among the beasts of the field ?

It is because they are incapable of understanding either the relation in which creatures stand to the Creator, or the affinities which subsist among the creatures themselves. As it becomes the soldier to have a distinct knowledge of his officers, that he may render to every one, according to his rank, the honour and obedience to which they are severally entitled; 80, preparatory to the practice of morality, it behoves us to have a clear perception of our various duties, together with the proper subjects of those duties. If some desperate malady has deprived us of this knowledge, we then rank with idiots, and are in no condition to violate the rules of morality. Hence the lunatic who butchers his father is not punishable among us as a parricide, because he has no acquaintance with these general maxims : “No man should murder another :" “ Every son should honour his father.” Nor has he any conception of this particular truth : “ The man whom thou art about to destroy is thy father.”

Take away all doctrines, and you annihilate all the relations which subsist among rational creatures; you destroy all morality, and reduce man to the condition of a brute beast, allowing him to be influenced by passion and caprice, as the lowest animals are actuated by appetite and instinct. Admit only some few doctrines, and you admit only a part of your duties as well as your privileges. An example may serve to set this truth in a clear light : Suppose you have a rich father who is entirely unknown to you, and whom the world has never looked upon as your parent; if you never receive any certain intelligence concerning him, it is plain, that you can neither render him filial obedience, nor yet succeed to his estates.

Many philosophers, who cannot reasonably be suspected of fanaticism, or even of partiality to evangelical principles, have yet strenuously insisted upon the importance of doctrines, as calculated to influence the conduct of mankind. A polished writer of this class seems to have entertained an idea, that if all men were possessed of an enlightened understanding, crimes of every kind would be unknown in the world. Observe, at least, in what terms he speaks of war, which is an evil of that complex nature, that it may justly be looked upon as an assemblage of every possible vice: “ What is the cause of that destructive rage which, in every period, like a contagious malady, has infected the human race ? Ignorance is undoubtedly the source of our calamities,-ignorance with respect to the relations, rights, and duties of our species. Thus the most ignorant and unpolished people have ever been the most warlike; and those ages of the world which have been peculiarly distinguished by darkness and barbarism, have been invariably the most fruitful in murderous wars. Ignorance prepares the way for devastation, and devastation, in its turn, re-produces ignorance. With a clear knowledge of their rights and their reciprocal duties, which form the true and only interest of nations, it is a contradiction to suppose, that those nations would voluntarily precipitate themselves into an abyss of inevitable evils.” Principes de la Legislation Universelle. This author, if he be supposed to speak of our relations and duties with respect to God, as well as those which regard our neighbour, had reason on his side, and especially if his views were directed to the knowledge of every powerful motive which should constrain us to fill up those duties.

Upon these principles, of what fatal neglect are those persons guilty who, being charged with the religious instruction of princes and people, leave both immersed in a deplorable ignorance, which draws after it the horrors of war, with all the various calamities that overspread the face of Christendom !




IF to preach the gospel is to teach sinners the relations they sustain with respect to God, as Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier; if it is to announce the advantages which flow from this threefold relation till, penetrated with gratitude and love, mankind apply themselves to fulfil the several duties to which they stand engaged; we may

challenge the world to point out any knowledge of equal importance with that which is discovered in the gospel.


To deprive us, then, of the doctrines contained in this gospel, is it not to suppress the most important instructions we can possibly receive, and to conceal from us a testament made wholly in our favour? To decide this question, we shall here consider what influence these doctrines have upon morality.

The virtues of worldly men, as well as their vices, are little else than a kind of traffic carried on by an inordinate self-love. From this impure source the most amiable of their actions flow; and hence, instead of referring all things primarily to God, they constantly act with an eye to their own immediate advantage. Christ has offered a remedy to this grand evil by teaching us, that to love the Deity “ with all our heart” is the first commandment of the law; and that to love ourselves, and our neighbour as ourselves, is but a secondary commandment in the sight of God; thus leading us up to divine love, as the only source of pure virtue. When self-love is once reduced to this wholesome order, and moves in exact obedience to the Creator's law, it then becomes truly commendable in man, and serves as the surest rule of fraternal affection.

Evangelical morality ennobles our most ordinary actions, such as those of eating and drinking, requiring that "all things be done to the glory of God," 1 Cor. x. 31, that is, in celebration of his unspeakable bounty. A just precept this, and founded upon the following doctrine : “All things are of God,” 2 Cor. v. 18, to whom, of consequence, they ought finally to refer. If you lose sight of this doctrine, your apparent gratitude is nothing more than a feigned virtue which has no other motives or ends, except such as originate and lose themselves in self-love. In such circumstances, you cannot possibly assent to the justice of the grand precept above cited; but, holding it up, like the author of the “ Philosophical Dictionary,” as a subject of ridicule, you may, perhaps, burlesque the feelings of a conscientious man, with regard to this command, as the comedian is accustomed to sport with the character of a modest woman. Thus many philosophers are emulating the morality and benevolence of those censorious


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religionists, concerning whom our Lord significantly declared, “Verily, they have their reward."

How shall we reduce a sinner to moral order? Will it be sufficient to press upon him the following exhortations ?-“Love God with all thy heart. Be filled with benevolence toward all men. Do good to your very enemies." All this would be only commanding a rebel to seek happiness in the presence of a prince whose indignation he has justly merited; it would be urging a covetous man to sacrifice his interests, not only to indifferent persons, but to his implacable adversaries.

To effect so desirable a change in the human heart, motives and assistance are as absolutely necessary as counsels and precepts.

Here the doctrines of the gospel come in to the succour of morality. But how shall we sufficiently adore that incomprehensible Being who has demonstrated to us, by the mission of his beloved Son, that the divine nature is love? Or how shall we refuse any thing to this gracious Redeemer, who clothed himself with mortality, that he might suffer in our stead ? All the doctrines of the gospel have an immediate tendency to promote the practice of morality. That of the incarnation, which serves as the basis of the new testament, expresses the benevolence of the supreme Being in so striking a manner, that every sinner who cordially receives this doctrine is constrained to surrender his heart unreservedly to God. His servile fear is changed into filial reverence, and his inveterate aversion into fervent love. He is overwhelmed with the greatness of benefits received; and, as the only suitable return for mercies of so stupendous a nature, he sacrifices, at once, all his darling vices. “ If the Son of God has united himself to my fallen nature,"such an humble believer will naturally say, “I will not rest till I feel myself united to this divine Mediator; if he comes to put a period to my misery, nothing shall ever put a period to my gratitude ; if he has visited me with the beams of his glory, it shall henceforth become

chief concern to reflect those beams


all around me to his everlasting praise."

The memorable sacrifice which was once offered up in

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