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nothing but their being Ifraelites indeed, in whom was no Guile ; nothing but their babe-like Disposicions, to procure them those special Revelations which were withheld from the Wise and Prudent.
Ler us but consider the Reason of the Thing itself, the Circumstances of Mankind; and we shall clearly perceive the Connexion betwixt Love and the Discovery of moral and religious Truch; and that the Method made use of by our Saviour was the most suitable to the Circumstances of Mankind.
First, It is very plain that irregular Dispositions, and immoral Habits do not only hinder our Attention, but give us strong Aversions to those Truths which are irreconcileable to them; and make us Enemies to those .who tell us such Truths. Now it must be very difficult to convey moral Vol. II.
Truths to Men who will not regulate these their Dispositions.
But Secondly, Suppose fuch Men could be convinc'd of a System of fuch moral and religious Truths, what would be the Consequence? They must hold the Truth in Unrighteoulness, and their Sin must become exceeding sinful. The generality of Men, even of the most Ignorant, know more than they care to practise. The Defect is not in their Understandings. If they have Obstinacy enough to resist their Convictions in a few, and those perhaps eafy, Duties, it would only increase their Obstinacy to teach them more Duties, and especially more difficult ones.
Thirdly, Let us suppose farther, that Men of irregular Dispositions were not only taught moral and religious Duties, but, by some external Force
and Terrors, compellid to an outward Compliance with them; 'tis true, Social Order might be somewhat preserv'd and kept up in such a Case, but all Personal Merit and Virtue would be excluded and destroy'd on such a Supposition.
On the other hand, where the AFfections are apply'd to in the first place, and gradually regulated, 'till they arrive at that generous Love and Benevolence here enjoin'd, and exemplify'd by our blessed Saviour, all our Interests in Error are remov’d; the Mind is emancipated and made free; stands equally open to Conviction ; is prepar'd to receive any Truth; and joyfully to embrace any Office; and those Actions which Aow from such a Principle, must be of all others the most meritorious and praise-worthy.
It may perhaps be urg'd here, that this Refinement of the Affections implies a Knowledge of all moral Duties, C 2
and cannot be arriv'd at without a previous Instruction in them. But this seems to be a Mistake, and to arise from an Ignorance of human Nature. 'Tis true indeed, this is a Work not to be carried on without some Instructions; and 'tis agreed Men cannot live in the World wichout some Knowledge of Ducy; but our Affections are to be considered in the first place as personal and domestick, as things in which our own personal Happiness and Perfection are immediately concern’d; and Men are to be wrought upon in the first place by their own personal Interest in them; the Good or Evil which flows from them to others, is a secondary thing, and will have but little Weight wich us, but as it happens to suit our own personal Happiness or Misery; so that the natural Foundation of Instructions in the Regulation of our Affections is their Advantages with
regard regard to our selves ; which is the Method our Lord observes through his whole Sermon on the Mount, and particularly in the Beatitudes. This generous Benevolence leads us at once into the easy and free Practice of all Offices, such Offices as the Philosophers of old never thought of, and such as in fact filled the Heathen World with Surprize and Wonder.
From what has been said, the Meaning of the Terms made use of by the Apostle, and their Connexion, I hope has been made to appear; I chose to begin my Office * with this Particular, as it is beginning with the Beginning, and is of the utmost Importance, tho' too much overlook'd and disregarded.
There is indeed much ado about Truth, many Controversies carried on with Zeal and Warmth; but
* Divinity-Lecturer in the Cathedral Chirch of Chichester. C 3