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In Answer to a BOOK, intitled,
The Moral Philofopher, &c.
HILE this Edition of the foregoing Sheets was pretty far advanc'd in the Prefs, there was publifh'd a remarkable Book, entitled, The Moral Philofopher, in a Dialogue between Philalethes, a Chriftian Deift, and Theophanes, a Chriftian Jew. I agree with the ingenious Author, that the Matters therein confider'd and debated, are indeed of the utmost Confequence in Religion: but that the Arguments on both Sides are impartially reprefented, I can by no means agree with him, for Reasons that will appear afterwards.
IN moft Sentiments, and in the Main of his Book, he is pleafed to accord with the Deifts I have lately confider'd; and fo far he appears to be a real and moft zealous Deift. This harmony of Opinion will be fhewn prefently. But as he A 2
differs from Them in fome Things, the Lovers of Novelty, in Religion, will doubtless be furpriz'd to meet with thefe following New Things, which are not, that I know of, to be met with in any modern Books of Deifm. (1.) This various Author neither receiving the Chriftian Revelation in Whole, nor rejecting it in Whole, but by an affumed Prerogative above all others, admits and excludes, damns and commends by Parts and Parcels, just as they favour or difagree with his New Syftem: He feems to fet up an Office of Curiofities and new Discoveries of many strange Things, with respect to what is, and is not certainly interpolated in that Revelation. He, I fay, is fo far a Philofopher, as to receive the Refurrection of the Body + into his Scheme, with future Rewards and Punishments, calling it the Abrahamick Religion. But I doubt, whether any fort of Deifts, whilft they continue fuch, will approve of his Conceffion, or thank him for this Article of Belief. For, fay they, we who are known to fet up upon the Foot of believing nothing but what we thoroughly comprehend with our Reafon, fhould we advance fo far as to fubfcribe to that very odd Difficulty of Faith, as all our Ancestors, of dear Memory, have ever acknowledged (and every Philofopher for that Reafon has fmiled at, and diffented from it) with what Face can we any more appear to fcruple the leffer Difficulties of Chriftianity, as explain'd by the most Rational, or forborn to be fo by the Wifeft? You believe too much, Mr. Philalethes, for an Orthodox Deift; and too little for a Sound Christian. Which of the Two will receive you into their Number, or make
• Page 440.
+ Page 348.
+ Page 349.
their Acknowledgments for this Piece of Ser-
HOWEVER this Philofopher ought to have justice done him as to thefe Particulars; and I contend in the first Place among his Admirers, to appear with Pleasure, in giving him Thanks for any the forefaid ingenuous Stipulations with the Christians, in the Caufe of Religious Truth. He not only admits of future Rewards and Punishments in an indefinite Sense, but has the Grace beyond all Modern Deifts to contend for them in an unusual Manner; his Words are, "It is certain that if God governs moral Agents
at all, he must govern them by Hope and "Fear, or by fuch a wife and fuitable Applica"tion of Rewards and Punishments, as the "different Circumftances of Perfons, and the "Ends of Government require. And these "Rewards and Punishments must be fuch as "are not the natural, neceffary Confequences of "the Actions themfelves, fince every one must "fee that this would be no Government at all, "and that the Cafe in this Respect, muft be "the very fame, whether we fuppofe any recto"ral Juftice, or any Prefence or Operation of "God in the World or not. And yet this "which is really no Government at all, is all "the general Providence which fome feem willing to allow." * And his Defence of the Ufe of Prayer from p. 179 to 197, against Fatalism and Atheism is very deferving of Commendation.
THESE hopeful Advances ought certainly to be cherish'd in any who calls himself a Deift,
* Page 189, 190.
and not a little admired at from a new Oracle of that Profeffion. The Penetration and Compass of his Judgment appear indeed beyond the common Rate of Writers on that Side. He faw clearly the Abfurdity of Fatalifm and Atheism, and the equal, but yet common Folly of those who would fkreen that Opinion under the Name of Deift. His love of Truth, at leaft the open Appearances of it, Consistency, made him abhor fuch Contradiction in Name, as well as deteft the Scandal offer'd to himself retaining the Name of Deift: He has therefore very justly cut the Name out of the Catalogue of all the Tribes of that Denomination. But I hope as he is fo far true to Reason as to enlarge his Faith with the forefaid Articles, that, by the Influence of his great Judgment, he may happily bring them into the Fold of Religion; and then I am loth to despair, nay willing to hope, that He at the Head of them, and all the other Deifts will be fo good to Themselves, and to the plain Confequence of Truth, as to proceed a few eafy Steps further, and then they, and he, will be not only almoft, but altogether fuch a true real Chriftian (inferior in degree) to St. Paul, a glorious Apostle, and the great Hero of this Writer. For as long as he makes thofe great Doctrines the Basis of his Scheme, which the other Chiefs either denied, or were perfectly indifferent to, he lays a real Foundation of God, and Moral Virtue, and at the fame Time excommunicates every Atheist out of his Society, whom the other ever hitherto carefs'd as being one with them. So far as he pleads the Cause of God as a Governor, that he governs the Moral World by the Influences of thofe Godly Truths; I am ready to infer what he was going to fay farther, and shall be allow'd fo
fo to do by Himfelf: That if a Governor, he is queftionlels the most perfect of all Governors and Rulers over Men whatfoever, and that the greatest Perfection of Goodnefs, Mercy, Truth, and Justice muft fhine out in his Difpenfations towards the Children of Men, for illuftrating those feveral Perfections, and celebrating this Divine Governor; fuch as beft confults the Nature and Circumftances of Man, for his good, as a free, moral, accountable Agent, but a frail Performer of his Duty always in this World; and at the fame Time, moft magnifies the Honour, and best marks out the engaging Excellence, and authoritative Amiableness of all his governing Attributes jointly, and feverally. If our Moral Philofopher admits this eafy Poftulatum, I hope he is the better difpofed both to admit and confider better of the Plea for Jefus Chrift in his feveral Offices.
My obfcure unpracticed Pen, unskilful of every palliating Artifice, and uncapable of adding Strength to any Thing but what down right Truth affords, in common, to almost every Chriftian, has already attempted such a Plea in the Mediatorial Scheme as the only true Religion; and therefore am excufed from repeating here. I recommended it with all Candour, and with a very good Intention, to the ferious Thoughts of Deifts, and at the fame Time by way of Contraft, delineated Deism (which at first might have been a better Title of the Book) because a true Representation of it is indeed one way to cure it, without giving Offence to thofe, who, not loving the Name nor the Application of any Medicine, may be apt to diftafte the kind Offer, however over-run with the Distemper they don't care to own, and have, on that Account, the greatest A 4 need