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stant to bear and see all that happens on both hemispheres of this globe. How much more wonderful must it be, to rule and govern all these at once, and, as it were, with ove glance of the eye ! When we consider this, may we not cry out with the poet Boethius, “ O thou great Creator of heaven and earth, who governest the world with constant and unerring sway, who biddest time to flow throughout ages, and continuing unmoved thyself, givest motion to every thing else, &c."
It is also a great comfort to have the faith of this Providence constantly impressed upon the mind, so as to have recourse to it in the midst of all confusions, whether public or private, and all calamities from without or from within ; to be able to say, The great King, who is also my Father, is the supreme ruler of all these things, and with him ali my interests are secure; to stand firm, with Moses, when no relief appears, and to look for the salvation of God from on bigh; and, finally, in every distress, when all hope of human assistance is swallowed up in despair, to have the remarkable saying of the father of the faithful stamped upon the mind, and to silence all fears with these comfortable words, God will provide. In a word, there is nothing that can so effectually conform the heart of man, and his inmost thoughts, and consequently the whole tenour of his life, to the most perfect rule of religion and piety, as a firm belief and frequent meditation on this divine Providence, wbich superintends and governs the world. He who is firmly persuaded, that an exalted God of infinite wisdom and purity is constantly present with him and sees all that be thinks or acts, will, to be sure, have no occasion to overawe his mind with the imaginary presence of a Lælius or a Cato. Josephus assigns this as the source or root of Abel's purity. "In all his actions,” says he,
“ be considered that God was present with him, and therefore made virtue his constant study.”
Moreover, the heathen nations acknowledge this superintendence of divine Providence over human affairs in this very respect, and that it is exercised in observing the morals of mankind, and in distributing rewards and punishments. But this supposes some law or rule, either revealed from heaven or stamped upon the hearts of men, to be the measure and test of moral good and evil, that is,
of virtue and vice. Man therefore, is not Zwov dvouov, a lawless creature, but capable of a law and actually born under one, which he himself is also ready to own. are born in a kingdom,” says the Rabbinical philosopher, “and to obey God is liberty.” But this doctrine, however perspicuous and clear in itself, seems to be a little obscured by one cloud, that is, the extraordinary success which bad men often meet with, and the misfortunes and calamities to which virtue is frequently exposed. The saying of Brutus, “O wretched virtue, thou art regarded as nothing !” is well known; as are also those elegant verses of the poet, containing a lively picture of the perplexity of a mind wavering and at a loss upon this subject: “My mind,” says be,“ has often been perplexed with difficulties and doubts, whether the gods regard the affairs of this earth, or whether there is no Providence at all ;for when I considered the order and disposition of the world, and the boundaries set to the sea, I thence concluded, that all things were secured by the providence of God ;- but when I saw the affairs of men involved in so much darkness and confusion, &c."
But not to insist upon a great many other considerations, which even the philosophy of the heathens suggested in vindication of the doctrine of Providence, there is one consideration of great weight to be set in opposition to the whole of this prejudice, namely, that it is an evidence of a rash and forward mind to pass sentence upon things that are not yet perfect and brought to a final conclusion ; which even the Roman stoic and the philosopher of Cheronea insist upon, at large, on this subject. If we will judge from events, let us put off the cause and delay sentence, till the wbole series of these events comes before us; and let us not pass sentence upon a successful tyrant, while he is triumphant before our eyes, and while we are quite ignorant of the fate that may be awaiting himself or his son, or, at least, bis more remote posterity. The ways of divine justice are wonderful. " Punishment stalks silently, and with a slow pace; it will, however, at last overtake the wicked.” But, after all, if we expect another scene of things to be exhibited, not here, but in the world to come, the whole dispute concerning the events of this short and precarious life immediately dis
appears and comes to nothing. And to couclude-the consent of wise men, states, and nations on this subject, though it is not quite unanimous and universal, is very great, and ought to have the greatest weight.
But all these maxims we have mentioned are more clearly taught and more firmly established, in the Christian religion, which is of undoubted truth. It has also some doctrines peculiar to itself, annexed to the former, and most closely connected with them, in which the whole Christian world, though by far too much divided with regard to other disputed articles, are unanimously agreed and firmly united together. But of this hereafter.
LECTURE IX. Of the Pleasure and Utility of Religion. Though Lucretius, the author of the following passage, was a great proficient in the mad philosophy of Epicurus, yet he had truth strongly on his side, when he said, that
nothing was more pleasant than to be stationed on the lofty temples, well defended and secured by the pure and peaceable doctrines of the wise philosophers."
Now can any doctrine be imagined more wise, more pure and peaceable, and more sacred, than that which flowed from the most perfect Fountain of wisdom and purity, which was sent down from heaven to earth, that it might guide all its followers to that happy place whence it took its rise! It is, to be sure, the wisdom of mankind to know God, and their indispensable duty to worship him. Without this, men of the brightest parts and greatest learning seem to be born with excellent talents only to make themselves miserable; and, according to the expression of the wisest of kings, He that increaseth knowledge, increaseth sorrow. We must, therefore, first of all, consider this as a sure and settled point, that religion is the sole foundation of human peace and felicity. This even the profane scoffers at religion are, in some sort, obliged to own, though much against their will, even while they are pointing their wit against it; for nothing is more commonly to be heard from them, than that the whole doctrine of religion was invented by some wise men to
encourage the practice of justice and virtue through the world. Surely then religion, whatever else may be said of it, must be a matter of the highest value, since it is found necessary to secure advantages of so very great importance. But, in the mean time, how unhappy is the case of integrity and virtue, if what they want to support them is merely fictitious, and they cannot keep their ground but by means of a monstrous forgery! But far be it from us to entertain such an absurdity! The first rule of righteousness cannot be otherwise than right, nor is there any thing more nearly allied or more friendly to virtue, than truth.
But religion is not only highly conducive to all the great advantages of human life, but is also, at the same time, most pleasant and delightful. Nay, if it is so useful and absolutely necessary to the interests of virtue, it must, for this very reason, be also pleasant; unless one will call in question a maxim universally approved by all wise men, that “ life cannot be agreeable without virtue;" a maxim of such irrefragable and undoubted truth, that it was adopted even by Epicurus himself.
How great, therefore, must have been the madness of that noted Grecian philosopher, who, while he openly maintained the dignity and pleasantyess of virtue, at the same time employed the whole force of his understanding to ruin and sap its foundations ! For, that this was his fixed purpose, Lucretius not only owns, but also boasts of it, and loads him with ill-advised praises for endeavouring, through the whole course of his philosophy, to free the minds of men from all the bonds and ties of religion; as if there were no possible way to make them happy and free, without involving them in the guilt of sacrilege and atheism !--as if to eradicate all sense of a Deity out of the wind were the only way to free it from the heaviest chains and fetters ! though, in reality, this would be effectually robbing man of all his valuable jewels, of his golden crown and chain, all the riches, ornaments, and pleasures of his life : which is inculcated at large and with great eloquence, by a greater and more divine master of wisdom, the royal author of the Proverbs, who, speaking of the precepts of religion, says, They shall be an ornament of grace unto thine head, and chains about thy neck: and, of religion, under the name of wisdom, If
thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hidden treasure. Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. Wisdom is the principal thing ; therefore, get wisdom, and with all thy getting, get understanding.
And it is indeed very plain, that if it were possible entirely to dissolve all the bonds and ties of religion, yet, that it should be so, would certainly be the interest of none but the worst and most abandoned part of mankind. All the good and wise, if the matter were freely left to their choice, would rather have the world governed by the supreme and most perfect Being, mankind subjected to his just and righteous law, and all the affairs of men superintended by bis watchful providence, than that it should be otherwise. Nor do they believe the doctrines of religion with aversion or any sort of reluctance, but embrace them with pleasure, and are excessively glad to find them true. So that, if it were possible to abolish them entirely, and any person, out of mere good will to them, should attempt to do it, they would look upon the favour as highly prejudicial to their interest, and think his goodwill more hurtful than the keenest hatred. Nor would any one, in his wits, choose to live in the world at large and without any sort of government, more than he would think it eligible to be put on board a ship without a helm or pilot, and, in this condition, to be tossed amidst rocks and quicksands. On the other hand, can any thing give greater consolation or more substantial joy, than to be firmly persuaded, not only that there is an infinitely good and wise Being, but also that this Being preserves and continually governs the universe which bimself has framed, and holds the reins of all things in his powerful hand, that he is our father; that we and all our interests are his constant concern ; and that, after we have sojourned a short while here below, we shall be again taken into his immediate presence ? Or can this wretched life be attended with any sort of satisfaction, if it is dirested of this divine faith, and bereaved of such a blessed hope?
Moreover, every one who thinks a generous fortitude and purity of mind preferable to the charms and muddy