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had combined together what had been faid by him upon kindred fubjects, without accurately preferving the order, or always noticing the transition of the discourse.


The morality of the gospel.

IN ftating the morality of the gospel as an argument of its truth, I am willing to admit two points; first, that the teaching of morality was not the primary defign of the miffion; fecondly, that morality, neither in the gospel, nor in any other book, can be a fubject, properly speaking, of discovery. C 4


If I were to defcribe in a very few words the scope of Chriftianity, as a revelation * I fhould fay, that it was to influence the

* Great and inestimably beneficial effects may accrue from the miffion of Chrift, and efpecially from his death, which do not belong to Christianity as a revelation; that is, they might have exifted, and they might have been accomplished, though we had never, in this life, been , made acquainted with them. These effects may be very extenfive. They may be interesting even to other orders of intelligent beings. I think it is a general opinion, and one to which I have long come, that the beneficial effects of Chrift's death extend to the whole human fpecies. It was the redemption of the world. "He is the propitiation for our fins, and not for ours only, but for the whole world." 1 John, ii. 2. Probably the future happiness, perhaps the future existence of the fpecies, and more gracious terms of acceptance extended to all, might depend upon it, or be procured by it. Now these effects, whatever they be, do not belong to Chriftianity as a revelation; because they exist with refpect to thofe to whom it is not revealed.

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conduct of human life, by establishing the proof of a future ftate of rewardand punish ment- "to bring life and immortality to light." The direct object, therefore, of the design is, to fupply motives, and not rules ; fanctions, and not precepts. And these were what mankind stood moft in need of. The members of civilized society can, in all ordinary cases, judge tolerably well how they ought to act; but without a future ftate, or, which is the same thing, without credited evidence of that state, they want a motive to their duty; they want at least strength of motive, fufficient to bear up against the force of paffion, and the temptation of prefent advantage. Their rules want authority. The most important service that can be rendered to human life, and that, confequently, which, one might expect beforehand, would be the great end and office of a revelation from God, is to convey to the world authorised assurances of the reality of a future existence. And although, in doing this, or by the miniftry of the fame perfon by which this is done, moral precepts, or examples,


or illuftrations of moral precepts, may be occafionally given, and be. highly valuable, yet ftill they do not form the original purpofe of the miffion.

Secondly, morality, neither in the gospel, nor in any other-book, can be a fubject of discovery, properly fo called. By which propofition, I mean that there cannot, in morality, be any thing fimilar to what are called difcoveries in natural philofophy, in the arts of life, and in fome sciences; as the fyftem of the universe, the circulation of the blood, the polarity of the magnet, the laws of gravitation, alphabetical writing, decimal arithmetic, and fome other things of the fame fort; facts, or proofs, or contrivances, before totally unknown and unthought of. Whoever therefore expects, in reading the New Teftament, to be ftruck with discoveries in morals, in the manner in which his mind was affected when he first came to the knowledge of the difcoveries above mentioned; or rather in the manner in which the world was affected


them, when they were firft published; expects what, as I apprehend, the nature of the fubject renders it impoffible that he fhould meet with. And the foundation of my opinion is this, that the qualities of actions depend entirely upon their effects, which effects must all along have been the fubject of human experience.

When it is once fettled, no matter upon what principle, that to do good is virtue, the reft is calculation. But fince the calculation cannot be inftituted concerning each particular action, we establish intermediate rules: by which proceeding, the business of morality is much facilitated, for then, it is concerning our rules alone that we need enquire, whether in their tendency they be beneficial; concerning our actions we have only to afk, whether they be agreeable to the rules. We refer actions to rules, and rules to public happiness. Now, in the formation of these rules, there is no place for discovery properly so called, but there is ample

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