« PreviousContinue »
Acts xxviii. it.
But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkefl: For
Printed for J. C i A R K and R. H E T T, at the Bible and Crown in the
HERE has lately appeared in our world, to confront the Atheist, and confirm the moral Theist in his natural theology, a most excellent treatise, intituled, The Religion of Nature delineated. It is pity, but the sagacious author had Delineated the Revealed Religion too; and thereby displayed its wondrous harmony and correspondence with the dictates of natural reason and religion; and its necessity (in cafe G OD wjll please to have mercy on the world) to supply the defects of it; or, at least, that he had led his rational Moralist a step or two nearer towards the Religion of Jesus.
I. In treating of the immortality or natural vitality of the soul, he soon finds himself at a loss. Here I begin (fays he, p. 111.) to be very sensible how much I want a guide. Sense, brings us to the grave; and reason, to some sort of territories beyond the grave: But they are dark and gloomy to the mere rational spectator. Tis the superadded revelation, that opens to us the region of departed spirits; and assures the purified fouls, that when their earthly house of this tabernacle (of this present habitation) Jhall be dissolved, they have a building of and from God (and built on purpose for defecated spirits) eternal in the heavens.
It is added, But as the Religion of Nature is my Theme, I must, at present, content my self with That light which Nature affords; my business being, as it seems, only to shew what a heathen Philosopher, without any other help, and almofl 'Au-roSvSaxTOf, may be supposed to think. Noble is the light, that is here afforded; and such as would reflect great honour upon the heathen Philosopher, were he supposed of himself, to convey it. Which of all those sages argued the existence,the perfection and unity of GOD, at the rate that is here argued? Had any one of them composed such a ratiocinative tract as this, in support of the Religion of Nature, he would not have been thought 'aoto^ccxto*, taught only by native reason, but, in some measure, ©eoJ\£ assisted by some of those secret instillations, or sudden influences, the author himself (inp.iof. n. 4.) thinks not i?npos fible. And the more possible or probable such supernal nal influences are there rendered, the more credible it may be, that (for the good of a nation, or the welfare of the world) such divine irradiation as is usually called inspiration, might, some time or other, be afforded. But, / hope, (proceeds he) that neither the doing this, nor any thing else contained in this delineation, can he the leasl prejudice to any other true religion. To be sure, other true religion must be founded on this; or must suppose the prinr cipal heads of religion, here argued (whether the mode of argument be always necelTary or no) as the basis of it. And the more any other (any farther or fuperadded) religion, comports with the. religious truth, here delineated, the more intrinsic evidence it brings along with it. And so this delineation will, as, it is there said, pave the way for its reception.
II. In one thing, the learned author might have: been a little more clear, that he may not be misapprehended. He would seem to establish religion even antecedently to the consideration of the divine existence. In feel. i. p.y. he founds the distinction between moral good and evil. Upon the distinction betwixt moral good and evil, he immediately founds religion. And then in feel. s> p> 6?. he advances to the proof of the divine existence. The first section begins, The foundation of religion lies in that difference between the. acts of men which difltnguijfjesthem into good, evil, and indiff erent.. If antecedently to the consideration of the divine existence, some , fitting rule may be laid down, in conformity or dis* conformity to which, human acts (called lpontaneous.